Don’t Let Him In (Part 4)
The bright daylight made J scrunch his eyes tight shut. Having opened the blind, his dad headed downstairs.
“Breakfast is on the table. We’re running late.”
J could hardly grasp that his vivid encounter with Katie, so real one moment, was gone the next, part of a dream. He scrambled through his morning routine, eager to see Alex and share his experiences.
His friend picked up on his urgency. Grabbing his rucksack he was out of the house in moments. They fell into step and Alex turned to look at J.
“Spill. I can tell you’ve had an idea.”
“Not an idea, another dream.”
“About Laurie? Did you see the creep he was talking about?”
“No, not Laurie. This time about a girl – do you know Katie Thompson?”
Alex shook his head, she had not hit his ‘radar’. “Is she fit?”
“Fit? I dunno. I’ve known her since infant school, I don’t think of her that way. I was at her house – in the dream I mean.”
J paused for a moment, watchful of 2 boys in red blazers waiting outside a friend’s house. Once they’d passed its glossy laurel hedge and walked far enough to be out of earshot, he took up the story again.
“She was crying and really upset. Saying the same sort of thing as Laurie. She said that he had been there, that someone had let him in.”
“Did she say who?”
“No – she wasn’t clear on that. She looked absolutely terrified – and that creeped me out.”
“So we’re no nearer to working out who they’ve seen,” Alex was puzzled, “or why you keep dreaming about it. Ever had dreams like this before?”
The boys were nearly at the bottom of the hill now, where Tower Lane intersected with the High Street. Again they turned in through the school side gate. Agreeing to talk later, they headed off in their separate directions, Alex straight for the gym. J took the path that led to the Science block, passing kids he knew only to nod or smile at. Snatches of conversations swirled around him, and that’s when he heard something to make his blood run cold. A redhead, whose name he didn’t know, had a nasal voice that reached him quite clearly.
“I can’t believe her, stuck up cow! Walked straight past me. Don’t I always wait for her at the corner of Gladstone Road? “
Her friend nodded assent.
“ She sailed straight past me like the flipping queen – never looked at me. I thought it was a joke at first, right? Thought she would turn round and tell me to ‘keep up’ or something. But no – miss fancy pants kept right on walking to school, didn’t look back once. Well she can stick it! I ain’t being made to look stupid.”
“Shhh,” the red-head’s companion obviously didn’t want the tirade heard by everyone.
“I won’t shush. She’s a moody piece of work that Katie Thompson.” The set of the red-head’s body was angry as she marched off, still talking.
“I bet it’s because I bought the same bag as her – I said I wouldn’t use it for school but she likes to be different.” She made the quotes gesture with her index fingers and flicked her hair back definitely. Her quiet friend huried them towards class.
J was struck with the urge to see Katie for himself, so he peered in the glass circle of each form-room door that he passed, hoping to locate her. No such luck, she wasn’t in any class-room on this corridor. All he achieved was getting himself marked late on the register by Miss Read.
The morning passed by without event. Each time he changed classes, J scanned the corridors, but he didn’t see Katie.
When J and Alex met for lunch he recounted what he’d overheard. Alex had picked up a rumour too, but it related a teacher, not to Katie.
“He’s evil J, I’m telling you!”
The canteen was serving pizza today,so Alex was chewing a huge mouthful noisily as he spoke.
“One kid said he was made to do 50 press ups and 10 laps around the sports field, just because he brought the wrong kit to school.”
“That’s rough,” J agreed. “But I think there’s more to this than a coach with an overdeveloped sense of discipline!”
Alex shook his head and tore off another bite of cheese and tomato.
“I’m telling you mate, he won’t allow anyone in the sports pavilion since he started. All the equipment gets carried to the door, but only he can take it in to put it away. He’s hiding something, I bet.”
J didn’t think there was much cause for concern, but what made his theories better than Alex’s? No more fantastic for sure! He’d found himself thinking along the lines of alien abduction – except that Laurie and Katie were not gone. He shook his head at his own craziness, and that’s when he saw her.
Katie Thompson was outside in the quad, in conversation with an eccentric woman in a tweed suit. The staff member’s back was to the window, so J saw only her grey hair – not her face – but his view of Katie was clear. She looked drained and pale, her long hair looking lank and dishevelled.
“Who’s that?” he gestured at the woman lecturing Katie.
Alex looked up from his food
“Who? The old biddy who looks like a 50s throwback?”
J nodded. He kept his eyes on Katie, who in turn stared unblinkingly at the older woman.
“That’s the new librarian – she took over from the one who went on maternity leave. Dunno her name though, who’s she ranting on at?”
Alex craned round, and nearly fell off his chair.
“Whoa – is that Katie? The girl looks awful!”
J shushed him when a couple of boys at a nearby table looked up from their meal.
“Exactly. It’s just like Laurie – they both look sort of … flat and lifeless.”
“You’re not kidding! I remember her now from the inter-house drama competition last year. She was hot in that murder mystery play! You remember, in the little tennis outfit?” He peered at her again. “I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Today she’s like a deflated balloon .”
“C’mon, let’s get closer.”
J stacked his tray on the counter, before Alex could argue. The boys hurried outside into the quad. Katie had already gone, and they couldn’t tell where.
“What do we do now?” Alex wanted to know.
“Let’s check out the Library.”
They entered the English block and turned left, then stopped suddenly. Through the half-glazed doors they saw the tweed clad librarian standing by the large plastic container for pupils’ returned library books. Then she moved off to a door at the back of the Library which led to her tiny office. This was the ideal moment to get in there and snoop.
[To be continued]