In the school refectory, the clatter of lunchtime was loud. Alex and J slid their trays onto a table in the middle of the room. As they sat, J cast his eyes around looking for Laurie, before locating him sitting alone.
“Look at him,” J nodded in Laurie’s direction.
Alex turned his head, but did not stop chewing macaroni cheese.
“What about him? Why the big interest in Laurie?” Alex continued shovelling the pasta into his mouth.
“Well he’s a popular guy sitting alone for one,” J counted off on his fingers. “He’s not eating… and he looks like a zombie today!”
This caught Alex’s attention. He turned to stare at Laurie.
“He does look odd, now you mention it … like ….. I dunno, like he’s zoned out.”
J picked at his baguette and studied Laurie. He couldn’t shake the idea that his behaviour today had a connection with what he had dreamed last night.
All through the school day J puzzled over the mystery of what might be wrong with Laurie, and whether his dream had any bearing on it. As he and Alex trudged home from school, he decided to confide in his friend. Describing the dream made him feel the the dread chill again, as cold and threatening as it had been last night. Alex was agog, but equally confused by what it could mean.
They parted ways at Alex’s house, agreeing to discuss it more tomorrow at school. However, J did not get through the night without incident.
It was pitch black, the clock read 3.03 am. J was jolted awake by the same bad feeling. In the gloom he listened, but heard nothing. As he had the previous night, J cast his mind back in search of what had woken him.
This time J ‘found’ himself in a garden. There was a curved path glowing faintly silver in the moonlight which he followed towards a house. He wasn’t sure whose home it was, although it seemed familiar. As he got closer he saw that the glazed back door was slightly open and the hairs at the back of his neck began to prickle. He stood at the door to listen to the silence of the house… but it wasn’t silent. It was faint but he heard sounds of crying.
Despite badly wanting to run away, J stepped over the threshold and into the kitchen. Moving cautiously into the room, the sobbing noise continued, but seemed closer. Looking round the kitchen, lit by the glow from the oven’s digital clock as well as the moonlight, he could discern a hunched figure in the corner. J made out a pale nightdress and long dark hair.
Drawing a little closer he put his hand out to touch the girl’s shoulder – and that’s when he remembered her. Katie Thomson – at Primary school they had become friends because J’s Mum and hers became friends the same time. He didn’t see her much around school, only in art class, but it explained the house being familiar.
As he touched her she whipped round. Her cheeks were streaked with tears and her expression was fearful.
“Did you see him?” she was distraught.
“Who?” J looked over his shoulder with dread.
Katie clutched his arm digging her fingers in painfully.
“Him – he was here.” Her eyes scanned the shadowy room.
“There’s no-one here but us. “
J wanted to reassure her, but she rose and went to the back door. She shut it, turning the key in the lock, before leaning with her back against it and holding the key tightly.
“They let him in,” she said. Her shoulders shook with silent sobs.
[To be continued …]