Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Nightmare Fuel, Day the Fourteenth - A Lifetime Later

This is not really a prompt which spoke to me, but I managed to wrestle something out of it.

The stories appear to be getting darker as the month wears on. Enjoy!


"A Lifetime Later"

Sometimes you go back.

It's not "back", not really. After all, they replaced most of the building. How could they not? Even if not the practical matter of damage, there's the memory.
There are ghosts.

So you go back to visit them. Never on open school nights, never when classes are in session. You visit as you did when you were a kid, when you could climb a tree overgrown too close to a fence, slip through a carelessly open window, and wander halls empty and deserted. It felt otherworldly at times like that. It felt like somethign from a dream, or a story.

So you slip through, into the past.

The new building rests on the same foundation.

You remember that you were mad that day. There had again been too much homework, you'd again not done it. It had been a bright autumn day, the kind for riding bikes and running through the yard. Not the kind for homework. It wasn't fair.

So, you were mad. Mike had shoved you on the way out at recess, and Stacy, she of the long black hair and bright blue eyes, Stacy had laughed. Your ears and face burned hot, your stomach tightened. You remember tears coming to your eyes, the chant of "baby". You remember that part. It's the last time you'd ever felt that.

You don't remember much more, but you remember that day.

You already had the trick of being places you shouldn't, of finding secret paths into the muskywet basement room behind the boiler, with the faint scent of oil and mildew.

You remember the smell.

You remember, because it sometimes helped you, whispering your hate into the cool cinderblock walls. Whispering your anger.

You hate Michael.
You hate Stacy.
You're not a baby.

Not a baby.

You don't know how they say the fire started,  but that doesn't matter. You know you called it. You know that whatever spirit lived in the building answered.

You didn't see the bodies of the younger kids, kindergarten kids, carried out, but you'd learn later.

Learn that Michael and Stacy were near the door and among the first to escape.

And learn that your body, hidden behind the boiler, would be the last found. That your parents would pin sad, hopeful fliers to lampposts, that even after they found you your mother would secretly hold out hope that you'd gotten out, that it was a mistake, that it was some other dead kid that looked like you.

And so, you go back sometimes. More often once your parents finally cleared out your room, finally moved away.

It is, after all, the only place that feels familiar, even if it is rebuild and nothing but the foundation remains.

When you see the ghosts of the kindergarten kids you tell them you're sorry, but they don't seem to understand. They just cry and cry for mothers who have long since moved on with their lives.

So you leave them and lurk beneath the shiny new building, beside a new boiler not yet smelling of spilled oil and rust, whispering to whatever spirits live within the walls that they were wrong.

That you're still mad.

That you've not forgiven them.

No comments:

Post a Comment