Hey guys! I’m sorry for being inactive for so long. So please accept this short story as my apology. I hope you enjoy it!
Warily, I looked up at the insipid ceiling. My heart lurched when the obsolete bed creaked under me. Making sounds after dark and without authorization was forbidden here at, ‘The Academy of Orphans.’ (Not very creative, were they?)
It was a little after midnight and Mrs. Kate was on her usual rounds. I should tell you Mrs. Kate was a cat. She was appointed ‘guard’ of the academy by her vociferous owner, Mrs. Kate. As you can see, this school was the most imaginative one I had ever seen.
Looking at my watch, I started counting, ’10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5….2, 1.’ Soundlessly, she stepped into my room. Her scathing eyes made a swift motion across the room, taking in every inch. I lay there, trying my best not to squirm under her gaze.
After about 27 seconds, she left. Thrilled, I got out of bed and made my way towards the hallway. It had a way to make you feel as if it was never ending, a clever way to frighten little kids. But I had done this way too many times to be frightened by a mere hallway.
Noiselessly, I moved down the hallway. There were rooms on either side of me, full of kids sleeping serenely. Finally I reached the stairwell. This has always been the hardest part. Right below the stairwell was the teacher’s sleeping area. Crossing it was the only way to get to entrance of the academy.
Despite the cold wind whistling past, beads of sweat began to accumulate on my forehead. This was my chance; my only chance at an escape—I had to do this. So, I firmly tip-toed down the stairs. It took me about 46 counts to get from the teacher’s sleeping area to the entrance, at a normal pace.
This information is what kept me steady, it’s what kept me from faltering as I made my way towards the gates of the academy.
My heart was hammering against my chest. I did it. I finally did it. Taking a deep breath in, I—
Suddenly, I could hear whispers and shouts coming from inside the academy. In the dark, I could see figures looming inside. Something had definitely happened. Realization hit me in the face. I had a choice. I could run away, leaving 12 years of my life behind at this miserable place. I could finally get a fresh start, a start I have always wanted. But then, I would be leaving behind everything I knew of. All those laughter and inside joke, all my nice friends, all my mean ones. I’d be leaving behind me and even though I had always hated this place, I didn’t want to do that.
“Mr. Lockhart, what do you think you’re doing !” shrieked a voice from behind.
“I—I was just—“ stumbling a little, I looked beyond the gates.
“Maybe another time,” I whispered and left.
* * * * *
The next day was utter mayhem. I had never once seen the somber kids of the academy like hooligans. But today, the quiet hallways were cacophonous. There were whispers everywhere and rumors were spreading like wildfire.
I didn’t have that many friends. Just three actually— Johny, Nick and Chris. We were the usual reticent students who hung out sometimes and ate lunch together. Our life was just that—ordinary. We didn’t want to conform to the rules of a monotonous academy, but we couldn’t leave either. So we just shrugged our shoulders and went through with it.
I was tauntering around the halls when out of the blue, I crashed into a girl. She had blonde hair cascading down to her waist and was about a head shorter than me. Instantly, I realized that she was Alex. She was, what you would call, ‘THE GOSSIP.’ Her garrulous behavior was what drove most people away and most people towards her.
“Hey!” she shrieked in her nosy voice. “Zach Lockhart, right? Do you want to know what I’ve just heard?” Before I could say no, she continued excitedly, “There is a rumor that someone from our school has been murdered. And that’s what all the chaos is all about. I just heard from someone that yesterday in the dead of night, teachers were scurrying about trying to cover up the whole thing!” She clapped here hands animatedly like this was the most fascinating thing she had ever heard.
“And, who told you all of this, Alex?” I asked her dubiously. “Mrs. Kate, ofcourse.” She flicked her hair and walked away. I stood there going over everything she said. Murder? In a school as dead as ours? Just as I was going to refute everything she said, I saw Nick running towards me. He stopped, panting and said, “Zach, I – I can’t find – “ He was cut off because at the same time, John reached us, panting too. “Zach it’s – it’s Chris.” That was all it took. All of us started running towards the gates of the academy. And boy, little did we know the surprise we would find waiting for us.
He lay there, a pool of blood near his head. His hands were extended in both directions. Ironically, he had always told us that getting murdered in this position was quite dramatical and unreal. A crowd had gathered around him. Kids and teachers were everywhere, cameras were flashing but all I could hear was someone screaming. It was me. I was screaming, because the person lying in a pool of his own blood was Chris.
And Chris was dead.
The sound of the sirens grew distant. The whispers calmed and there was hardly around left around him anymore, except me and Mrs. Kate, the cat. Johny and Nick said it was too, ‘ unbearable’ for them. They were supposed to be people who stood by him through everything. I scoffed at that thought. They said that there was an investigation going on and that we’d be kept well informed. I scoffed at that too. No one in this school did anything to help anyone.
From that day onwards, I stopped rebelling. I stopped trying to find a way out. It changed me and I welcomed it
That night, somewhere inside the academy, when everyone was fast asleep, a murderer was on the loose and they were about to make their next kill.
A pair of hands clamped a throat. They were both breathing heavily. You could see the fear in her eyes and feel her life running out. A silent ‘thud’ was heard, as her body touched the ground. From inside, the clock tower struck midnight.
The killer smiled. A cat meowed.
The next day I woke up to the incessant shouts of Nick and John. One of them flicked my head and said, ‘There has been another one. The same place. We’ll meet your there.’
None of this registered in my head as I woke up groggily. Even without sleep I managed to get my fair share of nightmares. It was gruesome. I was seeing someone getting killed over and over again. Chris ofcourse. I couldn’t shake off that constant feeling of guilt. Like maybe if I had never left that night, I could have saved him. I could have helped him or I could have done something ateast.
Getting off my bed I started towards the hallways. Eventhough I really wanted to be alone, I had to find Nick and John, vaguely remembering they had asked me to meet them somewhere. For some reason there was a lot of noise coming from the –
I stopped dead in my tracks. Memories came rushing back. The pool of blood, his hair sticking to his face, his arms –
This…this was the clock tower. The place where he was murdered. It was like it was happening all over again. Cameras flashing, kids crying and the teachers shouting.
And there she lay, her golden hair flowing down to her waist. A look of fear etched on her face.
Alex Rivera was dead. Next to me Mrs Kate meowed.
This had barely registered in my head when I saw John rushing towards me. ‘Listen man,’ he said, looking around to see if anyone was watching us. “I… I did something bad.” Now he was starting to look really worried. “I don’t have much time, but just remember –”
He was cut off because at the same time, a police officer reached us. “ Sir, is your name Zach Lockhart?” he asked in a deep voice. Wearily I looked at John. He had a sad expression on his face, as if he wanted to do something but he couldn’t. “ You have been arrested for the murder of Chris Reynolds and Alex Rivera. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney—”
“ What!” I screamed, “But, I never – why would I? he was my best friend –”
“Zach,” John said in a calm tone, “Just go to the precinct with them. I’ll explain everything over there.” And that’s when everything went dark.
I woke to the sound of a creaking fan and a concerned John sitting in front of me. Suddenly, I sat upstraight, aware of what was going on.
“Where are the police? I – I have to explain that I would never kill my best friend and how can they even think of that? What is going on?” I was breathing heavily, not able to wrap my head around all of this “Zach, first of all calm down. What I am about to tell you is very important. When the police found the same fingerprints on Chris and Alex’s clothes, I figured I should tell them and you the truth.”
“Wh- what truth? You didn’t kill them, did you? He took a deep breath, a solemn expression on his face.
“No, Zach. You did.”
I inhaled deeply. I counted from one to ten. I did everything to make this go away. I looked at his face to find even an inch of humour. But to know a avail “Zach” he continued, “Don’t freak out. Let me explain. You have something called Borderline personality disorder. You have an acute case of it. In this case, it means you have two personalities one side of you is good, well headed and smart. But there is another side to you. A side that is vicious and murderous.” He stopped letting it stink in. “H- how do you know this?” I asked but I already knew. The memories hit me and I was washed over with guilt and rage.
“Because, there was a time when you tried to kill me too.” I was deflated, overcome by the feeling of remorse.
“I – I have vague memories of it. I don’t know what to say, I – I’m really sorry John—”
“ Save the apologies for another time. Listen, all those days you were trying to escape, you weren’t. I saw you the first time and you begged me to help, to stop you. And I knew you were innocent. But then you would wake up the next day with no memories of the night before. At first I thought it was just an act. But then it happened over and over again. And each time you wouldn’t remember. The nights when Alex and Chris –.” He stopped for a minute before continuing, “the nights when they died, were the nights I failed you. The only thing I could do was place you far away from the crime scene.”
“But why would you –” I was cut off by him, ”Yes, I knew you wouldn’t want me to do that, but I couldn’t just leave you…I couldn’t.” Both our faces were wet with tears.
“Its not you John, you were the best friend anyone could ask for. Its me – I am a murderer.”
“Don’t you ever say that. That part is not you. You are good and you will learn to control that part.”
And then it came. It turned my face hard and contorted. Once again, John’s face was washed over with fear.
“You,’’ it growled.