The dream came again that night. As she lay in a fitful sleep upon the bed she had once found both comforting and restful, Sarah woke to what she thought was the sound of thunder. But as she opened her eyes onto her dark bedroom, the girl found the eerily twisted shapes of tree branch shadows upon her ceiling, shed by the moon on a cloudless night.
"I'm dreaming," she told herself for the thousandth time.
Sarah knew it was a lie. She knew that whatever the unspeakable horror was lurking in the darkness was it was all too real. Every night for the month she'd either felt it, saw it, or heard it. The dark creature her mind could find no name for seemed content for the moment to simply spy upon the girl. As some dark guardian, or as a predator stalker its prey, Sarah still had no idea.
"Go away!" she whispered harshly at the shadows near her dresser, "I don't want you here!"
There was the sound of something slithering across the floor, followed by a gentle thud before the shadows seemed to clear, as always revealing nothing. Sarah tilted her head up and stared at the ceiling, unwilling to scream as she heard it crawling along the carpet towards her. She knew screaming would do no good. It hadn't in the first week since her thirteenth birthday. Resulting only in scaring her mother the first time, and annoying both her parents by the third time. On the fourth night they'd discussed calling in a specialist, so Sarah had started keeping quiet about it.
"It's just a dream ... It's just a dream," Sarah chanted like a hopeful mantra, even as she shivered in fear of the shadow's icy touch, "It's just a dream, it's just a dream..."
The girl let out an involuntary whimper, curling herself up into a tight ball in the center of the bed. She quickly buried herself in her blankets, her pillow over her head, covering her ears, desperate to block out all sound.
Sarah!" the voice was more insistent this time. Louder. More in her mind than in her ears.
"What do you want?!" she pleaded for the hundredth time, wanting desperately to scream the words a the top of her lungs, but daring not to.
"Sarah..." was the only reply, a voice sinister, yet gentle. Malevolent, yet loving. A voice who's hot breath Sarah could feel upon her ear, even though her pillow was pressed tightly against it.
"Go away," Sarah wept, shutting her eyes so tightly they hurt, "Either kill me, or just go away!"
She surprised herself with those words. And the distant sound of amused chuckling seemed to echo through her room before vanishing into the shadows once again. Sarah moved the pillow from her ear as the voice drifted away, and she realized that she was almost beyond the fear. Most nights, once the creature had finally given up it's game; Sarah had found herself drenched in sweat, shaking violently. This night, however she found herself almost numb to the fear.
"I'm going insane," she reasoned, staring blankly at the underside of her pillow, "I'm going completely crazy and they're going to send me to an asylum..."
Sarah pulled her pillow away, knowing that the danger had passed. She glanced at the digital clock; its red glowing numbers stared back at her and pronounced the time to be "3:45am". "If only they'd believe me," she murmured, turning away and watching the shadows of branches on her ceiling shift with a pair of passing headlights, "But mom's trapped in her own little perfect world, and dad's almost never home. No wonder they don't believe me. They don't even know who I am..."
Sarah came downstairs in time to see her father give her mother his customary kiss goodbye before heading out the door. 'Same thing every morning, ' the girl thought wearily.
Sarah vaguely recalled her father mentioning something about finalizing some kind of corporate merger over dinner the previous night. Apparently he wouldn't be home until late tonight because of it. Not that it made a huge difference. No matter where her parents were, the shadows always came for her at night...
It was then that the smell hit her. Sarah immediately grabbed her stomach as her insides seemed intent on escape. She looked up and saw her mother frying bacon. For no reason Sarah could fathom, the smell was noxious, filling the air with a thick miasma of stench. She felt sick, but having an empty stomach there was little danger of throwing up.
Instead, Sarah ran back upstairs and flung herself down on her bed, waiting until the nausea had passed. "I must be coming down with something," she said to herself, staring at the ceiling and listening for her mother's impatient call to breakfast, "I should probably just sneak out or something."
"Sarah?" came her mother's all too high-pitched shrill morning voice, making the girl cringe, "Are you okay, honey?"
Her mother knocked on the door, but in the way of all parents opened it without invitation. "Sarah?" her mother asked again, standing in the doorway with a look of concern, "Breakfast is ready, dear. Aren't you hungry?"
"No," she lied. In truth Sarah was famished, but the mere smell of solid food made her want to wretch, "I'll just have something to drink for now, and eat at lunch."
"Oh. I see," responded her mother, her motherly tone of concern turning to a motherly tone of disappointment. Hardly a surprise to Sarah's ears, "Then I guess I just won't bother cooking you breakfast in the morning anymore."
Sarah shook her head in dismay as her mother stormed off; making unnecessary amounts of noise once she got downstairs. "Whatever," grumbled Sarah, sitting up and contemplating whether it was worth getting to school early, "Like you actually care or something."
After a moment, she got to her feet and stared out at the old tree outside her window. "Strange," she commented, almost more to the tree than to herself, "Ever since these 'dreams' started, nothing much seems to matter."
The tree seemed content to withhold comment, however. Sarah really couldn't blame it, though. It just being just a tree and all.
The house was quiet and dark when Sarah finally got home that night, the long winding walk through town she'd taken to avoid going home right away ensuring that the autumn sun was low on the horizon by the time she'd returned. The girl paused, staring up at her second story bedroom window as the shadows lengthened around her, and bleak sunlight became dull reddish orange.
"Are you waiting for me?" she whispered at her window, shivering as much from the thought of receiving an answer as the cold wind that blew past her, "What is it that you want from me?"
For a long moment, Sarah just stood there, contemplating nothing. Simply feeling the cold wind as it wrapped around her bare legs, threatening to lift the dark purple and black pleated skirt of her school uniform. The breeze seemed almost therapeutic, though, reminding the girl that she was indeed alive.
"Might as well face it," the girl muttered, shaking her head and dispelling the fear that lurked in the back of her mind as she walked up the stairs and tried the door. To Sarah's surprise, though, it swung open as her small hand touched the handle.
Her dark eyes widened as the creaking sound filled her ears, and the wind pushed the door all the way open. On instinct, Sarah glanced around, expecting to see someone, anyone who could explain to her why the door was left open. But the streets were deserted.
Walking back down to the sidewalk, Sarah noticed for the first time that there were no cars parked in any of her neighbor's driveways. There were no sounds of children playing in backwards, only to be called in by worried mothers. Only dead dry leaves floating in the wind currents occupied the empty streets with her.
"Strange," Sarah thought aloud, feeling a peculiar calm overtake her, despite being more alone that she'd ever been in her entire life, "Very odd."
With a shrug, the girl moved her long, auburn hair out of her eyes and over one shoulder as she walked back up to her house, and into silent dwelling. As she suspected, there were no signs of life, but a small piece of paper was waiting for her on the kitchen table told the whole story.
Without bothering to take off her shoes, Sarah walked across the hardwood floor and picked it up. The note was as she suspected. "Dear Sarah," it read, and the girl could almost feel the sarcasm beneath the exasperation, "I really needed a night out, so I had your father take me to dinner. Don't wait up! Mom."
"Yeah, whatever," the girl commented bitterly as she crumpled up the note and tossed it into the waste basket before returning to make sure the front door was securely locked, "It's not as though the monsters under my bed are out to get me or something."
Once she'd removed her shoes, and hung up her coat, Sarah headed upstairs, and into the bathroom. "At least I've always been safe here," she commented, her voice sounding strangely hollow as the girl switched the light on, "Monsters don't like the light. Or so they say..."
Glancing at her reflection, Sarah pushed her hair away from her face with both hands and exhaled slowly. She could see the effects the dreams were having on her. The lack of sleep was surely taking its toll in the way her eyes seemed almost dim, by the increasingly pale pallor of her skin, and by the way her long auburn hair had lost its life.
"I feel about a hundred years old," she told her reflection as she undressed, leaving her school uniform in a pile near the door before running the water for a long hot shower.
"But if I was a hundred years old, at least I'd be able to leave this place," she replied to her own statement as the girl sat naked on the edge of the tub, "Maybe I'd even get away from myself."
Reaching out her hand into the falling water, Sarah found it to be icy cold. With a suspicious glance, she touched the faucet marked "hot" and turned it a little farther. After quietly watching the falling water for a full minute, Sarah touched the flow again and found it to not be much better.
"Fine," she muttered, turning the tap half-way before standing up and pulling out the knob that made the water switch to the shower, "I'll worry about it in a minute."
Sarah then pulled the curtain closed, suddenly shivering as a cool breeze entered through the partially open bathroom door. "I thought I'd closed that," she pondered, and pushed the door closed with her foot before returning to the shower.
The water felt good as it splashed across her naked body, forming little rivulets that followed her adolescent curves with seeming interest. Yet as her mind wandered, Sarah found herself oblivious to the strange ways the water seemed to move. Even as it seemed to almost reluctantly clinging to her small nipples, the girl simply stood there, her eyes closed, listening to its almost hypnotic rhythm against both her body and the porcelain beneath her feet.
Soon, though, the water became almost sluggish in its decent. With a seeming will of its own, the water began to caress Sarah's body, exploring her delicate curves with he touch of a skilled, subtle lover. Without really noticing, Sarah sighed contentedly, arching her back and closing her eyes as the water seemed to ooze over her small, firm breasts, making her pinkish nipples harden in excitement.
But even as steam rose all around her, Sarah felt herself shiver, and opened her eyes to turn the hot water tap a little farther over. But as the girl did so, the pleasant caress of the water across her breasts ceased, and she felt a deep sense of longing she couldn't define.
"Oh well," Sarah told herself, bending over to grab the soap, "no sense day dreaming."
With her back to the spray, Sarah rubbed the bar of soap between her hands and began to spread the frothy goo up her arms, feeling the day's tension seem to peel away as she went. And once again, as Sarah closed her eyes, the water seemed to take on a life of its own. It's hypnotic rhythm causing the girl's mind to wader as it rubbed itself firmly against her shoulders, and ran almost firmly down her back where it flowed almost appreciatively over the curve of her bottom.
All the while, Sarah hummed tunelessly, her body responding to the water's warm caress, the girl blissfully unaware of its intentions. Even when a rivulet ran down between her ass cheeks and seemed to push gently against her tight little opening, Sarah hardly noticed. Her entire concentration was focused on lathering herself, and she only felt a pleasant tingle as her small hands rubbed against her breasts before moving down towards her stomach.
Without concern, the girl leaned forward, causing the water to splash against her backside as she lathered her legs, little noticing as the water rubbed more firmly against her bottom.
Soon, even the steam that filled the shower seemed to take an interest in the girl's young nubile body. As Sarah stood up and turned around to face the oncoming water, she actually felt it close in around her. For the first time, the rhythmic sounds of the water didn't distract Sarah, and the whole situation came into focus with frightening clarity.
Opening her eyes at the sudden strange feeling of being touched all over by the wet, ethereal matter, Sarah shivered despite the heat. "What, what are you... ?" she stammered, glancing slowly over her shoulder as the mist coiled about her, and the water once more became a sluggish ooze that clung to her small body.
"What do you want!?" cried Sarah, gasping in fright as the water gave her breasts a firm squeeze and pushed down upon the small of her back with surprising strength.
"No! Please don't do this!" the girl begged as the water forced her onto her hands and knees, "Please! I'll do anything!"
Just on the edge of her hearing, Sarah could hear a low chuckling sound. The voice gave her a second chill. There was something strangely familiar about the sound, but the girl couldn't place it. The quiet laughter soon changed to more of soft exclamation of intense interest, but the thrumming of the water against the tub drowned the words the voice spoke.
Soon, all that Sarah could see was the steam, rolling in like a thick fog that threatened to carry her away to another realm where nightmares where made real. The only thing that held her on the earthly plane was the feel of the icy cold porcelain of the tub beneath her hands and knees.
Soon, the water that fell upon her back seemed to change. It no longer fell in steady stream, spouting from the showerhead, but now fell directly from overhead like some kind of dark rain. It's interest in Sarah's young body ceased to halt, however. With renewed intensity, a constant rivulet of hot water flowed between the two modest rises of her bottom, and brushed past her anus as though reluctant to leave before running down further and almost joyously finding her untouched pussy.
With its strange sentience, the water began to flow between the now quivering lips of Sarah's pussy, pushing deeper with every passing moment before rushing forward to her now hardened clit where it fell towards the pull of gravity like a reluctant waterfall.
Sarah shook her head, closing her eyes and gritting her teeth defiantly. "No," she told the water as she struggled to push herself up, to find the strength to stand as the water seemed to cling to every intimate part of her body it could find, "This is a dream! It's not happening. I can make this stop if I just wake up..."
The girl pushed harder, forcing her shoulders higher, but the water merely increased its speed and strength. Sarah then let out a defiant shriek as the water caressed its way around her body and almost seemed to hold the teenager's small breasts with enormous all encompassing hands. Sarah cried out, feeling tears fall from her eyes that were lost in the torrential downpour, as the water began pushing against her breasts as it slid across her skin before falling off the ends of her nipples, giving them a final twisting squeeze before falling into the mists below.
"No, no, no!" she cried defiantly as Sarah felt her body react to the strange caresses. The way the water touched her neck becoming a stream of nibbles and kisses, the hard pressure upon her back feeling more like a thousand firm hands rubbing rhythmically against her tense muscles, and the strange feeling of the water upon the girl's auburn hair felt like fingers playfully running through it.
Finally, Sarah opened her eyes, unable to hold back the building sensation. She could feel something warm and wet probing at the entrance to her bottom, poking tentatively further in every so often before flowing back the way it came, teasing the girl as more water seemed to clench and unclench itself against her clit in time with the near penetrations.
"What are-! What are you doing?!" Sarah gasped, hardly noticing the way her pussy lips were being slowly moved aside as water that refused to leave began pushing itself against the warm resistance of its victim's womanhood.
Sarah then had to catch her breath, gritting her teeth and letting out a long, excited moan of denied ecstasy as the water finally penetrated the tightness of her bottom, squirming around inside her and ticking nerves the girl never knew she had.
"Oh! Oh yes-! Nooo!" she pleaded, arching her back and feeling the water upon her small perky breasts grip harder as the water that had been slowly pushing its way into her pussy gave a sudden hard thrust.
With a cry of denial, Sarah felt the water push its way deep inside her, bypassing all resistance by being fluid in some places, and strangely solid in others. "This- This can't be happening!" she stammered, feeling something grip her shoulders tightly before thrusting deeper into her, "This isn't real!"
Once again, the far off voice changed, making sounds as though it were out of breath as the water began to pull back and thrust forward in jarring motions that slid Sarah's body back and forth across the bottom of the tub.
"No! No! No!" the girl exclaimed, feeling her own excitement at having something so firm, yet so fluid filling her pussy, dragging itself back and forth as it squeezed brushed against her clit, "I don't want to-! I don't want to like this!"
Sarah could hear the voice, louder now, and the steam seemed to be hot breath against her ear as the pressure upon her shoulders was joined by the feel of the water gripping her ass cheeks in its peculiar flowing fashion. "Soon..." the voice promised, familiar but distorted in Sarah's ear. Its tone was becoming ragged, and she could feel the water all around her pulse with a building climax.
"No!" the girl exclaimed, instinctively knowing what was about happen, "Don't do that inside me! Noooo... !"
Sarah's scream filled the classroom with a terrible echo. Jarring the poor girl awake as she thrashed about at her desk. For a long moment, the other students and their teacher simply stared in shock as the girl struggled, flailing her arms and kicking her legs defiantly. "No! Don't!" Sarah screamed again, this time eliciting a small chorus of giggles from her classmates.
"Sarah!" her teacher commanded, instantly snapping the poor girl's mind back to reality.
With a start, Sarah opened her eyes to a horror far greater than the water in the shower raping her. She sat in the center row, near the front of the class, beads of sweat rolling off her, her small body shaking almost convulsively. Around her, the entire class stared in a combination of amusement and disgust, but at the front of the room, Sarah's teacher looked on with a look of deep concern.
"Are you okay, um, Sarah is it?" Ms. Davenport inquired half-hesitantly, casting two of the giggling girls near the back a warning glance.
"Y-yes, ma'am," managed Sarah, her throat was so dry that it was hard to speak.
The woman exhaled loudly, shaking her head in dismay. "It's not the best start to my career here at Ravensmoor," commented Ms. Davenport with a touch of levity that brought a weak smile to Sarah's lips, "My lessons are so boring that they don't only but my students to sleep, they give them nightmares."
"It, um, it wasn't that, miss," the girl stammered, looking all the more embarrassed as all eyes seemed to be focused upon her, "I- I'm sorry..."
"It's alright," the teacher assured quietly, "Now why don't you go and get cleaned up. It's my first day here, so I won't be handing out any homework."
'I need a drink, ' she thought inwardly as the rest of the class let out a cheer at the promise, 'but I don't know if I can handle water right now... '
"Just don't be long," Ms. Davenport added over the ruckus, "I still want to go over the chapter four, and the reasons that the Spanish armada failed."
The girl struggled to her feet, pausing for a moment and looking rather puzzled as she felt the strange dampness of her panties. A few of the girls snickered at her expression, and she quickly scurried from the class, unable to face them any longer, yet thankful for the reprieve.
As Sarah entered the quiet hall and closed the door behind her, she shook her head in amazed horror, realizing that this was the first time she'd ever had so many of her classmates even bother to notice her at any one time. Screaming and crying, begging for her life was hardly the ideal first impression, but now it was over with. There was nothing to do but find the bathroom and wash up.
The girl's footsteps seemed to echo hollowly along the empty hallway, and the heavy door seemed displeased about being forced open between classes. With a sudden shudder, Sarah felt an unstoppable gush of tears fall from her eyes as the sterile smell of the girl's bathroom assaulted her senses.
"Why?" she demanded rhetorically, running to the closest mirror and leaning against the sink, "Why me? Why must I have these dreams?!"
Sarah felt a surge of anger as she looked up at her reflection in the mirror. Her tears had reddened her eyes, and those tears in turn had left her face stained by their passage. "It's not fair!" she told her reflection, defiantly, "Do you hear me!? It's not fair!"
With a sudden burst of anger Sarah never knew she could muster, the girl slammed her fist against the mirror, sending cracks out in all directions from the point of impact.
"Oh my..." she muttered, pulling back her fists and staring at it in amazement. The girl had received not a single cut; yet the mirror was ruined by a thousand tiny fractures that formed huge cracks along its surface.
"How did I..." she began, suddenly seeing a vague image of a strange figure in the mirror just over her shoulder.
"What'd you do that for?!" demanded a haggard male voice, causing a surge of panic to fill Sarah's consciousness.
As she spun around, Sarah knew she was in real trouble. Before her stood the school janitor. An aging relic from who knew when. None of the students really knew his name, most ignoring the glum, bitter looking old man who often muttered to himself as he mopped the floors. The faculty was worse, however, denying his existence to the point where he was not even considered as a witness to any wrong doings that went on in the school. The nameless janitor had truly become a non-entity.
"I- I-" stammered Sarah, her throat feeling sore and ragged from screaming, her eyes wide with alarm as the man dropped his broom and approached her with a growing expression of anger.
"You broke the mirror!" he shouted, reaching out with both hands, causing Sarah to raise her arms defensively, only to find her wrists grabbed by an iron grip, "How could you!?"
"I'm sorry!" the girl cried, new tears forming in her eyes, "I didn't mean to!"
"You'll have to pay for that," the man said in a tone that sounded angry, yet distant, "And it'll cost you, little girl."
"My parents-!" she began, but yelped in surprise as the janitor forced Sarah to her knees.
"Ah, no!" she exclaimed, finding her face in line with the man's crotch.
"You'll pay," the man repeated, lifting both of Sarah's arms above her head and taking both wrists in one long fingered hand.
"Please..." begged Sarah, sniffling as she felt the cold of the floor tiles seep into her bones through her bare calves, wishing that her school uniform didn't force her to wear a skirt, "You don't need to do this..."
"Yes," the man chuckled, taking down his fly and reaching inside his pants, "Pay, pay, pay..."
Sarah gasped, but didn't cry out as the nameless janitor drew out his semi-hard cock and let it hang obscenely before her face. "What-? What are you doing?" she stammered, issuing a muffled cry as his thick, meaty cock was pushed against her lips.
The girl closed her mouth immediately, refusing to allow such an old, horrible looking thing to enter her mouth. The gesture, however, only seemed to spurn him on. With a sinister chuckle, the janitor's cock stiffened and stretched out until it pushed almost painfully against Sarah's face.
"Mm, mmm!" pleaded Sarah, shaking her head and looking up into the man's almost glazed over looking eyes, begging for some small mercy.
The man merely chuckled in response, a hollow sound that seemed almost not to originate from within him and let go of his now throbbing member. With a wide grin that showed his cracked, yellowing teeth, the janitor grabbed hold of Sarah's nose, laughing as the girl finally opened her mouth to breath.
"Mmmf!" she exclaimed, feeling the dick filled her small mouth as Sarah tried desperately to draw back her tongue from it's strange flavor.
"Now you pay," the man chuckled, letting go of Sarah's wrists and nose before taking two plentiful handfuls of the girl's auburn hair and pulling her head back.
Sarah's eyes widened in alarm as she watched the length of the janitor's cock slide out past her lips, the girl trying desperately to scream as he thrust it back into her with malicious force.
"Mmm! Mmmf!" came Sarah's muffled protest as she instinctively pounded her fists against the man's chest, finding his seemingly frail body to be as hard as stone.
With a continuing chuckle that sounded some how unnaturally forced, the janitor pulled and pushed Sarah's head back and forth, forcing the adolescent girl to suck his hard cock.
'No, ' pleaded Sarah inwardly, fresh tears streaming down her face as she gagged, trying desperately just to breath, until after what seemed like an eternity, her molester pushed her away with surprising force.
"Paaaaaay," the man moaned, staggering backwards as Sarah was thrown to the floor in a heap.
The girl looked up just in time to see the janitor standing before her with his dick in his hand. With a seeming desperation, he pumped his thick hard cock with his hand, his glazed eyes staring blankly at his own reflection in one of the unbroken mirrors.
"Freak..." muttered Sarah, spitting out the strange salty fluid that seemed to cling to her tongue, watching in morbid fascination as the janitor's face began terribly flushed.
"Only you..." he moaned, the words striking Sarah as rather odd as he blew his hot, sticky load. The impossibly thick white goo shot out with near unerring accuracy, and Sarah gasped aloud when she saw an equal amount follow again and again until a surly impossible amount of the man's cum had squirted out, covering the reflective surface with vulgar, viscous goo that even now oozed downward.
"Pay..." the janitor cackled, reaching out for Sarah again.
"No!" she shouted, staggering to her feet and running forward.
With an incomprehensible yell, Sarah plowed full tilt into the man. To her horror, however, the janitor merely grunted, grabbing the poor girl by the hair once more.
"Now what-?!" gasped Sarah, feeling her anger slowly building deep within her as the man roughly turned her around, twisting the girl's hair painfully.
"Clean..." the man replied, his voice sounding more like vibrations carried by the wind from the mouth of a dark cavern.
"No! That's-! That's disgusting!" exclaimed Sarah; struggling as best she could as the schoolgirl's body was forcively bent over the sink, the side of her face mashed against the repulsively smeared mirror.
"Now, pay!" the man laughed as Sarah felt the hot, disgusting goo squish out around her cheek where it was pressed against the glass, "Clean!"
"No! Never!" replied Sarah unwillingly, even as the man grabbed her head in both hands and turned her to face the mirror fully.
As the girl looked into her own eyes, she nearly cried out in horror as she saw the thick coating of cum that had been smeared across her cheek. The way it dripped off her pale skin into the sink seeming even more vulgar than the awkward violation she'd just received.
"You sick freak!" she cursed, only to be punished for the comment by having her head moved up and down over the mirror, her dry lips being wetted by the sticky mess.
"Only you..." came the words again, and this time Sarah was certain that they didn't come from the janitor.
"Wha-?!" she began, only to cry out in absolute disgust as Sarah felt the goo smeared across her tongue as the man moved her face across the mirror.
" ... can..."
"Bu-! Uhg-!" the girl sputtered, the pain of the sink's edge against her stomach seeming minor in comparison to being forced to lick her molester's cum from the mirror.
" ... stop..."
'Only I can stop this?!' she thought desperately, reaching out with her consciousness, trying to hold onto the words.
"Yesss," hissed a voice that Sarah now realized was more in her mind than in reality.
'Then I chose to!' she exclaimed inwardly, desperately hoping the voice was listening.
All of the lights in the washroom exploding at the same time immediately rewarded the plighted girl. The darkness that enveloped the two becoming so total and complete that Sarah could not even see the mirror so close to her face. A split second later, she felt the man let her go, and her ears were assaulted by a terrible screaming.
After a moment, Sarah realized that it was the janitor's voice, and not her own. She pushed away from the sink and turned to face the sound, but it seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once.
"What's happening?!" Sarah demanded, turning around and around in the utter darkness, "What is this?!"
"Desssstiny," whispered a voice inside her head, just before Sarah blacked out...
Sarah awoke yet again as the sound of prerecorded chime issued from the intercom, signaling the end of classes. "Wha-? Where-?!" she began, finding herself laying atop a small, narrow and terribly uncomfortable bed.
"You're in the nurse's office," a kindly voice replied as a cool wet cloth covered the girl's forehead, "One of the students found you passed out in the washroom, and-"
Sarah's eyes went wide as the woman spoke, her sweat causing her uniform to cling to her skin. "Then, then they found..." she stammered interrupting the older woman who tilted her head to one side questioningly.
"Found what deary?"
"The custodian," the girl replied, her pale cheeks flaring red as Sarah began to shake, "He ... He..."
"He hasn't been in to work in over a week," the nurse replied, shaking her head at the seemingly frightened Sarah, "Look, I know only just after lunch, but I suggest you get yourself home. You're in no condition to be learning anything today."
Sarah snickered, shaking her head in dismay. "I've learned quite enough today, thanks," she muttered to herself, causing deep lines of worry to cross the school nurse's face, "So I guess I will..."
The older woman looked thoughtful for a moment as Sarah swung her legs over and hopped down off the unpleasant bed. "It isn't that time of the month for you, is it?" she inquired, her pale blue eyes giving Sarah an all too discerning look.
"No," the girl replied, shaking her head straightening out the dark purple and black pleats of her uniform skirt, "I don't think that's it."
"Oh, I tried calling your parents as well," the nurse continued, causing Sarah to twitch suddenly, a deep sense of dread filling her as the door out of the stuffy little room seemed to grow farther away.
"And?" she inquired, walking towards the exit, thinking only of the cool October air that would soon surround her and fill her lungs with its sweet feeling of fleeting freedom.
The woman shook her head. "I can't find either of them," she replied in an annoyed tone, "but when you get home, I suggest you tell them that they take you to see the doctor."
"Yeah," replied Sarah with more than a hint of sarcastic cynicism as she turned the door handle and pried the door open, "I'll get right no that."
"See that you do!" the woman's voice called out behind her as Sarah practically slammed the door closed behind her and quickly hurried down the wide hall to the stairs that would take her to the second floor and her locker.
"Right," the girl muttered, her footsteps echoing off the ancient, gray stone walls and marble floor, "if mom finds out about this, she'll probable arrange for me to move into the dorms!"
Sarah stopped at her words, her nimble fingers already fondling the metal combination lock of her locker. For a moment, the girl considered the possibility, wondering if the shadows that dwelt within her room most nights were really worse than the strange, twisted hallucinations she'd had at the school.
"No," she told herself, spinning the dial a few times before pulling the lock open, "there's no sense dragging anyone else into this."
Sarah reached in and yanked out her backpack, only then noticing the strange cool air that seemed to radiate from within the small metal compartment of her locker. As she watched, the vague, fleeting shadows seemed to stir. Shifting, moving closer together, congealing until the girl's locker was filled with nothing but a dark void of blackness that seemed all too compelling as she stared into it.
"N, no!" Sarah exclaimed loudly, forcing her eyes closed and slamming the locker door shut with all her might, barely noticing the metallic rattling from within as she held it closed with one hand.
"Enough," the girl cursed through gritted teeth, her eyes stinging with tears as whatever force that possessed her locker subsided and Sarah was able to look up, surprised by what she saw.
As she looked on, Sarah's deep blue eyes widened. For in the center of the door, where her hand had been was a definite imprint of that same hand. With a small gasp, Sarah pulled her arm back staring at her palm for a moment before examining the dent in the metal.
"No," she whispered to herself, quickly turning away and marching deliberately back down the hall to the stairwell, "This isn't real. This is another hallucination."
Somewhere behind her, a door opened and the sound of murmuring voices echoed from a class room as a teacher came out into the hall, more than likely to see what all the noise was about, but by that time, Sarah was already down heading down the stairs, unwilling to look back.
Once outside, and down the wide stone steps of the main entrance of Ravensmoor, the pale sun and cool air did surprisingly little to improve the girl's mood. As she cut across the lawn, heading for the sidewalk, Sarah couldn't help but feel sick to her stomach, hating the fact that her only real choice was to go home and wait for her parents.
"It's almost tempting to just try and leave down. The bus station's closer than my house," she muttered, walking down the street and catching a glimpse of something black leaping away out of the corner of her eye.
With a startled gasp, the girl whirled around, her fingers clenched into fists as she prepared to defend herself however meekly against the darkness that perused her.
"Oh," Sarah muttered with relief, her pulse slowing back to normal as she spotted the black shape, and saw it for what it was.
A large, black furred cat had managed to knock a swooping sparrow out of the air, breaking its wing almost inadvertently. As Sarah watched, the cruel feline batted the avian, sending it rolling across the grass before pouncing upon it again with no intention of a quick kill.
Sarah sighed heavily, shaking her head at the scene. "I'm like that bird," she told herself as the sparrow's strangled cries solicited a hiss from its tormentor, and the wind picked up just a little.
"Yes," whispered a voice in Sarah's ear, seemingly carried by the breeze, causing the girl to shut her eyes tight and grab twin handfuls of her own thick, wavy brown hair in frustration, "but you could be the cat..."
"Enough!" the girl hissed through gritted teeth, kneeling down and shaking her head, "Leave me alone! I just want a normal life!"
"Be careful," the voice told her as it dissipated, "Be careful what you wish for..."
Sarah looked up from the television as a key turned in the front door. "It's about time," she muttered, picking the remote up off the arm of her father's chair and switching off the news before getting up and leaving the living room.
"Anyone home?" called her mother as the door opened, her arms full of groceries.
"No, just me," Sarah replied, quickly moving to take the one of the heavy paper bags, half amused by her mother's lack of comment to her statement as she lugged it out to the kitchen in both arms.
"Any word from your father?" her mother called out, lugging more bags in from the front step.
"Not really," the girl stated warily, dropping her bag on the kitchen table and for the first time noticing just how dark it had gotten outside, "but he said he'd be late, right?"
Sarah's mother nodded warily, barely sparing her daughter a glance as the haggard looking woman closed and securely locked the door. "Yes, that's right, isn't it?" she stated rhetorically in an exasperated tone, walking past Sarah as though she were a piece of furniture on the woman's way to the kitchen, "He left me alone with a daughter who won't eat."
"I never said that," Sarah replied in a tone of barely contained bitterness, her eyes narrowing as she followed her mother into the kitchen with another bag of groceries.
"Well the breakfast I made this morning certainly wasn't good enough for you," the woman chided, slamming several soup cans down on the table as she unpacked them, her tone one of poorly contained annoyance, "Now I'm just wondering if what I cook for supper with be good enough for 'her royal highness.'"
Sarah rolled her eyes, shaking her head as she yanked out a bundle of celery. "Look, I-" she began before catching sight of the vegetable stalks and feeling her stomach lurch.
"Sarah?" her mother all but demanded, turning an imperious gaze on the girl as she dropped the vegetable and doubled over, clutching her stomach, "Sarah, what's wrong?!"