A spooky tale being told in chilling installments: read the previous episode here or use the menu to access the full series.
[3.5 min read]
J’s thoughts kept circling round a central idea. If they could identify what the victims of the menacing entity had in common, this could lead them to the zombie-maker. Lulu becoming the latest victim seemed almost personal, driving J to find a solution. He couldn’t leave his sister and the other children as mindless shells, especially as they did not care to eat so were likely to get ill soon.
He and Alex parted ways for morning lessons, but planned to meet at lunch to mindmap theories. Gloom weighed heavy on J, he couldn’t bear to recollect how frightened and upset Lulu had been in his dream. He also worried that the trance she was in could be irreversible.
He remembered that he’d seen Laurie going into the drama annexe off the main school building so resolved to investigate what could have drawn him there, even in his zombie state. Some strong need or obedience to instruction was in operation; this was likely to be a vital clue. When the bell rang he quickly scraped his books together then hustled to the annexe to nose around.
One notice board featured a display on the latest school play – photos of cast, programmes and performance times. Further towards the music rooms he saw information about a forthcoming talent show. Pupils who learned guitar and drums were getting bands together, there were ‘celebrity’ judges and that’s when another puzzle piece fell into place. Katie was impersonating ‘Sharon Osbourne’, and the lighting technician was Laurie – so they would have been rehearsing together! Boom! Sadly J came up blank as to how his sister fitted into this pattern, but it was a start. He unpinned one of the fliers and hurried off to the canteen, where Alex had almost finished eating.
“Brilliant!” Alex exclaimed, through a mouthful of chocolate chip cookie, as he examined the leaflet “this totally explains how Katie knows a nerd like Laurie!”
J made a ‘Shhh’ face at Alex. He liked Laurie and found the term nerd disrespectful. “What about Lulu Alex? How did she come into contact with these guys?”
“Babysitting?” Alex guessed, “has Katie ever come to your house to babysit for her? No, scrub that, I think you’d have said if a fit girl like Katie came round to yours while your parents were out!” Alex snorted with laughter and took another big bite of his biscuit.
J finished his panini and drained his drink with a loud slurp.
“I still haven’t given up on the Librarian being involved somehow. So I’m off to have a nose around, with the excuse of returning this.” He held up the lacemaking book with a wry grin, then grabbed his tray and rose from the table.
J peered through the glass door into the Librarian’s office, his hand poised to knock, but it seemed she was absent. He tried the handle but it was locked. Checking his watch, he decided to hang around for 5 minutes before abandoning his plan. J kicked his heels, while racking his brains who could have visited his, Katie and Laurie’s houses, and for what dastardly purpose? When the Librarian didn’t show, J deposited the book and went to class, which was art, presenting a good opportunity to observe Katie and possibly put more clues together.
Katie looked worse today than last time he saw her. With hair hanging in dull, greasy hanks, her complexion was chalky pale and her eye sockets were shadowed purple, giving her eyes a feverish glow. She moved at half speed, not interacting with other classmates, although she responded to the teacher in a robotic way. Watching, J felt overwhelmed with sadness and panic. Would his little sister be trapped in the same state? It was imperative to solve the mystery and break the evil influence she was under.
The final bell of the day rang. Chairs scraped and bags were stuffed with books as pupils prepared to head home. In the busy corridors, most of the pupil traffic was leaving the building, so it was easy to spot Danny moving in the opposite direction. The oddest moment occurred when he got near Katie, they locked eyes and she was held in the mesmerizing beam of his gaze.
Watching from 100 yards away, J felt slightly dazzled himself, then Danny blinked and the moment passed. The older boy approached J but kept walking, leaving him puzzling over what he’d seen. Alex had rugby practice after school so J set off up-hill solo, fishing the flyer about the talent show out of his pocket as he walked. If Katie was playing Sharon O, who was playing Simon Cowell? There it was, the ascerbic judge was being impersonated by Danny Randall! Suddenly J was deafened by puzzle pieces falling into place!
The common factor had to be Danny Randall – he was working on the talent show and he had been the clown at his sister’s birthday party! Hell fire! J could hardly wait to convey this break-through to Alex.