- Note: This is a sequel to Senior Year: The First Saturday
It's an odd feeling, to be the holder of the knowledge that everyone seeks. It's akin to the feeling you'd get when observing an ant farm; are they building a bridge between two foundations, or just another wall?
They never found the bodies. I watched the news twice every day for two weeks, much to my mother's befuddlement, in the admittedly futile hope of seeing developments in the case that were actually true. The police searched the elementary school and everywhere around it for a 55-mile radius. They questioned the teachers of our school, of the elementary school(which I've taken to calling the Den), the residents of the surrounding area, even the rest of us seniors. They questioned me at one point; I just told them I didn't even remember much of that day. What was the point in trying to tell them the truth?
The last official statement from the captain was that they were "diverting the greatest part of their efforts to locating the victims of this gruesome incident." In other words, they'd found nothing. Notice how the word "alive" wasn't used in the above statement, though.
I'm not sure exactly what prompted me to start my own investigation. It wasn't a good sense of judgement, that much is definite. It certainly wasn't a sense of justice for my dead grade-mates. I hardly knew them. My best guess is that it was the same thing that had gotten me where I was then: an unhealthy amount of morbid curiosity.
Like most people who want to know about horrible things but have no idea where to start, I went on 4chan. /x/ was the closest thing to a starting point. I created a new thread, posting my experience and inquiring as to whether anyone else had seen anything similar. It didn't receive any replies for the first few days, other than the customary amount of saging. On the sixth day, though, Friday after school, I got a reply that caught my attention:
"338marty338 add me on skype. We may have answers for each other."
Now, I'm definitely not that kid who goes around adding complete strangers on his Facebook, but this was the only reply that hasn't been outright sardonic, and the closest thing to a lead there was. So I got on Skype, searched the username provided, and found the guy.
He introduced himself as Martin. He was in his sophomore year at the Autonomous University of Honduras, about a 20-minute drive away from where I lived. 19 years old. Long straight black hair, goatee, band shirt; he had the classic metalhead look. This guy was studying law, of all things.
Once we had covered basic introductions, Martin immediately got to the point.
"So you know about them?" he asked in a tense, hushed voice. "These... these things?"
The memory of what happened in the Warehouse came to me. "I'd say I've been acquainted with them," I responded.
He nodded grimly. "Tell me everything," he said.
I gave him the full version, starting from the moment I got to the Den to the moment I received the email about my grade-mates being missing. He was extremely agitated when I finished.
"Did they see you?" he demanded frantically. "In the warehouse?"
"Would I be here if they had?" I replied sarcastically. "Besides, I said I was behind some pipes, in pitch darkness."
"Don't you get it? They can see in the dark!" Martin hissed.
I grimaced. I'd had a sneaking suspicion about that, but I had been hoping I was wrong. "Oh, just awesome. But how do you know that? What's your story?"
For a moment he said nothing; he just stared at me, scrutinizing me, sizing me up. He took a deep breath and began in a pained, haunted voice.
"It was during my senior year too. Back then, my little sister Anna was in fourth grade. We went to different schools, so every day I had to go pick her up. Our dad was always too drunk to remember he had kids, and our mother was simply a bitch. After the third time both of them forgot or just didn't feel like picking Anna up, it became my responsibility.
"For the first few weeks, things were okay. Every day I would pick Anna up after school, and she would tell me about her day on the way back home. Neither of us was very anxious to get back to our oh so loving parents, so I drove as slowly as I could and we would talk for hours at a time, if traffic was bad.
"It was after about a month that Anna started acting weird. I mean, you can't expect a kid to be happy all the time, I know, but shit, some days she looked downright scared when I picked her up. She'd look down at her hands most of the time while talking, and instead of the usual chatterbox she was, she got laconic. Every time she looked at me, I saw this haunted look in her eye, like she'd seen something fucked up and was trying to forget it.
"Now I was pissed, because I thought some little prick at school was bullying her, and no one fucks with my little sister. I couldn't get her to tell me what was wrong, though. She kept insisting shit like 'I'm fine, it was just a bad day,' or 'it's nothing,' stuff she knew I didn't believe for a second.
"I kept prying, and she kept denying, until I just lost my patience with the stupid routine.
'Goddamnit Anna, cut the crap!' I told her one day, when she got in the car literally crying. 'You knew you're not fooling me! I know something's wrong! You know I'd do anything for you, but I can't freaking do anything if I don't know what the matter is!'
"She looked at me with that haunted look and just said, 'there's something really, really weird about the other kids.'
"That was it. That's all she said. I didn't do anything. I couldn't do anything. I had to watch Anna get progressively worse and worse because I couldn't fucking do anything."
Martin was breathing heavily now, visibly shaking with rage on the webcam. After a few seconds, he continued:
"Anna and I would talk less and less each afternoon, until eventually the rides back home that we used to prize became reticent.
"Anna would have that same haunted look every time she got in the car every afternoon. One time she came back sobbing. I demanded to know what was up, why she was so stricken.
'I-I saw, I saw... I...' She couldn't continue. She shook her head, and I just held her with one arm while the other gripped the steering wheel, white-knuckled with frustration.
"After that time I lost it. I didn't care if there was nothing I could do, I was going to find out exactly what was doing this to Anna. That's the only thing I could think about.
"So one Friday, I skipped my last two sessions and drove to Anna's school. I parked in the far back of the lot, so the car would be less noticeable, and walked over to the main school building. I told the principal I wanted to see how my sister was doing in class, and he just gave me a visitor's pass and gave me directions to Anna's class. Fuckin' idiot didn't even bother to confirm I was Anna's brother.
"I found the 4th grade class and looked into the square window of the peeling wooden door; thirty one nine year-olds noisily went about school activities and their own concerns,all except for one. Anna sat in the front row on the left side of the class, the seat closest to the door. I'm guessing that wasn't a coincidence, now that I think about it.
"She was the only one who noticed me. Her eyes went wide as dinner plates. She started shaking her head slightly but vigorously, like she was subtly trying to warn me of something. She had a frantic look. 'Go,' she kept mouthing. 'Go!'
"I wasn't about to leave while knowing exactly jack-shit. I didn't want the other kids to see me, though, so I ducked out of sight and found an empty classroom. I waited in there for about 45 minutes, until the final bell started squealing.
"Made sure to keep out of sight for the first five minutes, of course. Once I was reasonably sure the wave of kids had ebbed away, I snuck out of the empty class and went to find Anna. From where I'd been in the class, I saw that she wasn't among the kids who rushed out. So of course, my first thought was to check her class."
Here Martin paused. He took a shaky breath, and continued in a voice that belonged to a person on the verge of breaking:
"They had her surrounded. I don't know how they did it. She was right next to the door, she could've been sitting down and would be able to touch the doorknob, but... they had her against the opposite wall. Eleven of her classmates, in all.
"I watched through the window, hands clenched and white at my sides. I don't know why I didn't run in. I would've done that under any other circumstances, I'm sure of that. There was something that time that kept me rooted to the spot. I think it was that primal sense we've all got, the one that lets us know when shit's about to go sideways.
"They were talking, Anna and the group of kids. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I could tell Anna was positively terrified. She was pressing herself against the wall as much as she could, desperate for a way out. The other kids had their backs to me, but from Anna's expression I could tell that whatever they were saying had her petrified.
"Then everything froze. The kids stopped moving. Anna stopped moving. Even I felt paralyzed. Time slowed. Every second was an eternity. Sound seemed to have disappeared completely. Then, Anna moved. She curled the fingers of her right hand, just a tiny bit... it was barely movement at all, really, but it looked so obvious at the time, y'know?
"In a blink, they converged. Anna screamed as she disappeared from view, closed in on all sides. The kids... no, they weren't kids, those fucking things... they were giggling. It sounded intense and yet mechanical, nothing like a normal kid's giggle. It wasn't the sound a human makes."
Martin's voice was rising now as he got more and more agitated:
"I reacted as fast as I could. My hand darted to the doorknob, but it was locked. I was frantic. I screamed Anna's name and tried to punch out the glass and unlock the door from the inside. I drew back my fist and punched as hard as I could. It hurt like hell, but the glass didn't even crack. I punched the damn thing again and again, but it held.
"My knuckles were bleeding now, and I couldn't punch again. I could just stand there and fucking watch while they... they-
"There was a loud shattering sound mixed with the sounds of metal, and before I could react the class' window was broken, the metal bars bent. They were jumping out of the classroom through the gaping hole they'd made, dragging my sister out with them. I was so close, and I couldn't get to her!
"I smashed both my fists against the door and screamed as loud as I could: 'ANNA!'
"... and one of the things turned around and looked right at me.
"Let me tell you right now that what I saw in that face wasn't human. These things might've been human at some point, I don't know, I don't care. But what I saw that day was anything but human.
"Sure, she - it - had long brown or black hair, its skin was very slightly dark, and with the innocent childish grin it wore, it made a pretty good knockoff. But its eyes... those fucking eyes... they were like negatives of normal eyes. The whites were black, the pupil was white. The irises were a dark, demonic red. People say that in the most vivid memories, small details are hardest to remember, but those eyes will be in my nightmares till the day I die.
"It stared at me for no more than two seconds, but it felt like two millennia. Then, in the final instant, it grinned a little wider, and I swear I heard the faintest giggle escape its throat. In an instant, they were all outside, moving quickly towards the thick forest that bordered the school grounds, while Anna's desperate screams faded away.
"I bolted outside and around the building, but they were nowhere in sight. I ran straight into the forest and screamed Anna's name, over and over again. I ran in every direction, not even conscious of the fact that I was getting myself completely lost. If I had realized at the time, I wouldn't have fucking cared.
"I... the next... next thing I remember is waking up in a bed, my uncle Marco standing over me with a grim expression. Uncle Marco was the only guy I really looked up to. He was the guy who put me in school and payed for me staying there. He was the one who got me the car I use and covet so much. He was the one who did everything he could to get me into college, with his own damn money. He was more of a father to Anna and me than our father EVER was.
"Once I got my bearings I shot up like an arrow, screaming 'ANNA!'
"Uncle Marco was on me in an instant, shoving me back down. 'Whoa calm down, calm down!' He was saying. 'Relax. You're at my house, Martin. You've been out for a while. Don't push yourself.'
"I took deep breaths, tried to slow my racing heart. Once I'd gotten my shit together, I asked, 'Wh-how-how the hell did I get here? What happened?'
"Uncle Marco looked like he didn't want to answer, but eventually he started. 'One of the teachers at Anna's school heard screaming in the woods. She found you running around in circles, screaming Anna's name, over and over again. She phoned the police, and by the time they arrived, you were unconscious.
'They took you to the nearest hospital, and once they'd identified you there, they called your parents. They called me, and I got there as quickly as I could. I brought you here the moment they cleared you, and you've been here ever since.'
"I was incredulous. 'What the fuck are we doing here?!' I shouted at him. 'Anna's still out there! We have to-'
"'Martin,' he cut me off. He looked like he was close to tears. 'This was four days ago.'
"I felt like he'd just stabbed me. 'What the fuck are you talking about? It-it can't have been...'
"'You've been drifting in and out of consciousness for four days, Martin. This is the first time you've really woken up.' He took a shaky breath and finally forced out,'They're still searching for Anna. The police are doing everything they can.'
"So that was it. The police came by the next day and asked me questions about what happened, what I remembered. I told them the truth, and they wrote it off as fucking PTSD. I should've known they wouldn't believe me. They never fucking get it right."
Martin's voice was getting very quiet. He had a flat, lifeless tone now, and he barely spoke above a whisper. I had to lean towards the monitor to hear anything at all.
"They... they never found Anna. They searched for two months. Eventually they... had to declare her dead. Uncle Marco had a small funeral prepared. Our parents didn't attend.
"For a time, I considered killing myself. Uncle Marco talked me out of that too. Made sure I finished high school, got me into this place, the whole deal. It's because of him I chose Law. He's a judge. It's probably also in the pointless hope of changing anything in the useless law enforcement system.
"Not once, in these two years... have my parents ever asked about Anna."
For a time, the only sound was the droning static of the Skype call. I let the silence hang for a bit.
"I guess," I finally said, "the best we can do - the only thing we can do, really - is try to find answers."
For the first time since Martin had begun his story, he looked straight at me.
"Oh, I never forgot about Anna," he said with a steady, steel voice that took me by surprise. "I know she's dead. I know I've got no chance of ever seeing her again. But those things are still out there. I don't know if we'll be able to kill them. I don't know if they can be killed. But I've dedicated the last two years of my life to finding answers like that, and now that you're here, I will. We will."
I searched Martin's eyes. There was no sign of fear. No doubt. There wasn't even any anger; there was only a cold determination. This was not a broken man. Not by a long shot.
I finally gave a single resolute nod. "Where do we begin?"
"That's the million dollar question," Martin replied. He furrowed his brow. "I have a theory, but it's incomplete so far. If I'm right, you're not gonna like it. I'll contact you again once I've got a better idea."
"Got it. Take care."
I was going to hang up when Martin said, "wait."
Looking up, I saw something new in his eyes. A haunted look.
"One more thing...
"Ever since that day... since they took Anna... since that thing looked at me, I've experienced... strange things. Sudden flashes of movement in the corners of my eye. A giggle here and there when I'm in class, that no one else seems to hear. And children. They follow me everywhere. There's always one among the people around me. I don't always notice them, but they're always there. Staring at me. Grinning at me. I know they're waiting for their chance. The only reason they haven't taken me yet is because I've been careful. I don't leave my dorm at night. I'm never too far away from other people. But they're still always there. Even on moonless nights, I look out my dorm window and they're staring right at me in the pitch darkness.
"So whatever you do, don't let them see you. Because even if you do get away the first time, they will remember."
Written by JustAnotherScarecrow