Category Archives: Don’t Let Him In (serial)

A teenage boy able to dream walk discovers children are being put under an other-worldly influences. He and his friend try to unravel the mystery to save the zombie-like children

Don’t Let Him In (part 13)

This is the chilling finale of a spooky serial – please use the menu to read the earlier parts for the full effect.

[We join our hero J in a dream encounter. He’s trying to escape Danny who has been hypnotising children into a zombie state.]

Panting hard, and gripped with fear, J stood hunched over but faced his pursuer. He bent slightly at the waist to alleviate the grasping, vice-like stitch produced by running full-tilt.   Danny reached the bank of the lake, and stood knee-deep in reeds, glaring at J with menace.  J kept his head low, watching Danny via his reflection, rather than looking at him directly.

“You’re gonna regret interfering kid!” Danny’s voice was loaded with fury.  “You haven’t a clue what you’re dealing with.”  

He pushed his hood back from his face, revealing skin which was eerily pale in the moonlight. Although not wearing his clown make-up, he must use an eye-liner because his eyes seemed huge, dominating his face.  

“You won’t get the better of me.  I can’t stop now, I have too much to do.  My power is growing.  No-one will miss those brats, they were weak and ineffectual.  I can achieve so much more.”

As he spoke he glared at J, his focus never wavering. Even observing him via his reflection, J felt unable to look away.  There was an uncomfortable feeling from staring at Danny, but something other compelled him. J was required to look at him, deep in his dark, unblinking eyes. J began to relax, allowing his body to drop its guard.  He could hear Danny talking, but the words no longer made sense. A buzzing sound was building in his head and simultaneously he felt rather heavy and tired.  There seemed no reason why he was standing by the lake; it would be so much nicer to sit down, perhaps even lie down, because he was very, very tired. As if weighted with lead, his eyelids yearned to droop and close, yet something in the buzzing made him keep focusing on the pale boy’s face, upside down on the surface of the water

At that moment the moon went behind the clouds. In the ensuing darkness Danny’s reflection disappeared as if a switch had been flicked, and his hypnotic eye-contact with J was broken.  J gasped a breath in surprise, it was as if he’d been plunged into icy water.  Snapping out of the trance in a nano-second he realised that watching a reflection of Danny had offered no protection at all, he’d been moments away from becoming a successfully hypnotised zombie.

Danny, however, still chanted his mystic words and used his trance-inducing stare. He had failed to notice that his intended subject was no longer under his influence.  He continued to recite and stare, while moving his feet ever closer to the edge of the deep, still lake.  He stumbled a little which was his undoing, because his wobble shifted his point of focus as he struggled to regain his balance.  He continued his mesmerising routine, but now – as the moon pulled free of the clouds – he was looking at his own reflection in the lake.  

Danny’s droning speech continued and his eyes were unblinking.  J, however, stuck his fingers in his ears and turned his head to the side so that he was only aware of his pursuer from his peripheral vision.  

No longer hearing Danny’s words, J wasn’t pulled into a trance as he had been before.  From the corner of his eye he observed that the older boy continued creeping forwards, the water at the lakeside was now lapping over his black trainers.  J tensed, suspecting the crazy fool was trying to reach him by wading through the water. Without knowing how deep the lake was, it seemed an extreme plan.  

He blinked and rubbed his eyes, it was hard to watch without looking directly.  Without his fingers blocking his ears, he detected a less commanding tone in Danny’s speech than before, and sounded almost sleepy.  He had crept further forward and was, shockingly, thigh-deep in the water.  J could hardly imagine he was still being chased, instead it seemed that Danny was in a trance.  J risked a direct look, and what he saw amazed him.  Danny’s eyes were locked onto the eyes in his own reflection.  His lips were moving, reciting whatever he usually did to bring vulnerable children under his influence, but he was accidentally hypnotising himself!  

Danny chose that moment to bend at the waist so his upper torso came forward, his face was almost in the water!

J gasped in shock. “Stop!  Wait!” he called, but Danny took no notice.

Smoothly, calmly, as if it was the most obvious thing to do, Danny sank his face into the water.

The sky went dark again, thick clouds obscuring the moon, but even in the reduced visibility, J stumbled forward to help.  His legs sank into the achingly cold water and he strode forward with big, slow steps, feeling the drag and suck of the black lake around his lower limbs.  He still couldn’t see a thing, the moon remained behind a blanket of cloud, but he knew the direction to head.  

J swirled his hands blindly in the water, feeling the occasional tickle of water weeds, but no arms or legs to grab onto.  J began to panic, how much time had passed? When the moon broke through again, he was able to see more clearly.  But there was no trace of Danny.  

J was standing right where Danny had sunk into the water, but the older boy had disappeared without a trace.  He scanned the lake’s surface all around while his bleak feeling escalated. There was nothing to be seen.  Apart from the ripples that his movements were making, the lake was smooth as glass and silent.  

Silent as the grave’ was the ghoulish phrase which popped into his head.

J’s electronic alarm blurted which jolted him awake.  His body felt stiff and cold and, as he swung his feet out of bed, he saw they were scratched, scraped. His feet were sore, the toenails were encrusted with dirt.  He’d need to get showered before his Mum saw the state of them, but first there was something he had to check.  

J tiptoed onto the landing and put his head round Lulu’s bedroom door. His heart lurched with relief.  His sister was sitting on their mother’s lap, arms wrapped around her neck, talking softly.  His Mum looked up and, catching his eye, she smiled.

“Lulu would like boiled eggs and soldiers for breakfast.” she told him.  

He grinned and backed out of the room. Around the lump that was suddenly in his throat, he called downstairs to his dad with the food order.  Next minute Dad thundered up the stairs to join Mum and Lulu in the bedroom.  J smiled and rubbed his head, padding carefully to the bathroom to grab a shower, a bubble of joy lodged in his chest.

Sunday rolled around, sunny and mild. J was clipping the lead onto the dog’s collar, preparing to take her for a romp in the woods and fields, when  Lulu dashed into the hall. She skidded to a halt by the rack of wellies and outdoor shoes.

“Can I come?” she asked, looking at him with pleading eyes. She began sliding her toes into pink glittery boots.

“OK,” said J – everyone was spoiling Lulu this week, they were so pleased to have her back to her normal, cheeky self.

“I hold the treats J,” she told him firmly, reaching up for the bone patterned tin where they stored bacon flavoured bites that the dog loved.

He smiled to himself and grabbed bags and a tennis ball before they set off.  The dog was excited to get going and fairly dragged him along the paths towards the wood.  Lulu kept up a stream of little girl chatter, J listened, but an answer wasn’t required very often.  When they came to the fork in the path which led to the lake, their dog dragged them towards it. She loved to paddle round the edge of the water.

J approached the lake with great trepidation.  It was the last place he’d ‘dream’ encountered Danny, yet nothing had been seen of him since.  J felt guilty to play any part in the boy’s disappearance, but he was glad the danger he presented was removed.  Not only had his sister returned to normal, but he’d seen Katie Thompson around school, back to her bright, perky, pre-hypnotised self.  

The dog pulled to be let off and scamper about, but J couldn’t shake a feeling of foreboding. Lulu sneaked her smaller hand into his.

“I don’t like this place,” she said and sidled up close.

“Nor me Lulu,”  he replied, calling the dog back.  “Let’s take this crazy hound to the fields, shall we?”

He called and tugged on the lead, while Lulu held out a treat which the dog vacuumed from her fingers with enthusiasm.  Casting one last, wary glance at the surface of the lake and the dark secret it hid, J and Lulu walked away.

Don’t Let Him In (12)

A chilling tale being told in episodes – read the previous ones first for the full spooky effect!

Jolted awake at 2:58 am, J was filled with that familiar feeling of dread and chill.  Feeling as though his stomach was crammed with blocks of ice, he trod silently, but with speed, down the staircase and let himself out of the front door.  This time he didn’t intend to be late, this time he wanted to get there before any hypnotism could occur, so he hustled along as fast as he could manage with bare feet over loose gravel and tarmac.  Bushes scraped him as he passed which he barely noticed. He focused on his instinct leading him to the right location, as it had done previously.  Up ahead was a house with green up-lighters to create a feature of the spiky blades of plants in its front garden.  Near the corner of the house he made out the tall dark form of a creeping man.  His cold clammy feelings ramped up several notches, he experienced an underlying buzz  now he was close to the threat. 

J darted forward to reach the door ahead of the broad-shouldered guy dressed in black, despite having no plan as to what he was might do.  He didn’t have his phone with him, or his earbuds, this was a dream for goodness sake! How would he protect himself from being compelled by Danny?

Still he pushed forward, breathing heavily to block the looming figure.

“What d’you think you’re doing?” he said in a low but aggressive voice, stopping him from going any further.

The figure halted abruptly so the porch light illuminated his face. Despite having the hood of his black sweatshirt pulled over his head, he recognised Danny’s face.  J seemed to have the advantage, Danny looked puzzled.

“Who the hell are you?” his expression both shocked and angry.

“This ends now.” J stood his ground, although his heart was beating fast. With adrenaline pumping, his legs felt as if they were primed to leap over the hedge – gazelle like. It made him hyper-aware of everything; a plan began forming in his mind.

“Not one more kid will fall under your influence Danny!”

Danny’s shadowy face looked startled, then twisted in a sneer,  “How exactly do you intend to stop me?”

“I think the headmaster would be interested to hear you’ve been abusing rehearsal time and school resources.  I’m surprised you keep your grade average up with the amount of kids parties you’ve performed at recently.”  Even as he said it, J recognised this was not the kind of threatening talk they used in gangster movies or the Fast and the Furious, but he was winging it!

Danny laughed dismissively, making fear and disgust clutch at J’s heart. How could that monster treat this so lightly, children were literally fading away for his personal gain? That’s when another puzzle piece fell into place.  All Danny’s power & strength was being drained from his victims; his grades had probably improved, his victims’ loss being his gain. Fury ran through J’s veins like white heat, his sister should not  waste away just so that Danny the Clown could get good grades!

“You don’t know what your talking about!”  Danny blustered.  “You’ve got no proof!  You’ll sound like a nut job if you go blabbing to the Head.”  As he protested, his face became hard and ugly, projecting a menacing sensation. J knew he’d been unwise to pull a tiger by his tail.

J took a step back, he wanted some air between them in case Danny tried his mind manipulation on him.  In fact J wanted to put lots of space between them. He should take their argument somewhere more private … J suddenly thought of a place which could give him an advantage.

“Oh I’ve got proof alright!  You’ve been caught on camera, and a little girl called Lulu snapped out of her trance today and told her parent’s some pretty disturbing facts about the clown at her party. ” J bluffed wildly. ” In your shoes I’d expect the police at the house any minute now.”  

J was backing away as he spoke, then he turned and broke into a run. He hoped his ‘baiting’ plan worked and that Danny would follow him.  

It wasn’t easy to run in bare feet, J took a route over as many front lawns as possible, the grass was cool on his feet. He could hear Danny’s heavy footfall and laboured breathing close behind him so he daren’t ease up.  There were street lights to guide him for now, but soon he’d turn down a path which was unlit and stony and his advantage might be lost.  He gritted his teeth and hung a right, taking the route he often chose for its shade, walking with his dog on hot sunny days.  It couldn’t be more different now, the sharp stones bit into his feet and he felt both the jabbing sting of nettles and the tear of brambles grabbing at his legs as he powered past.  His eyes took a few moments to adjust to the dark, but he knew the route well and it was straight for 200 metres.

Behind him Danny was grunting and swearing under his breath, J heard his footsteps falter and stumble but he kept running. Sharp pain made him sure that his feet were bleeding from broken glass amongst the stones.  J kept running, even through a stitch which twisted his stomach and lungs tightly in a grip of iron while the adrenaline flooding his system made him want to clutch his waist or throw up.  He had to keep going.  There was a fork up ahead and he took the turn which led to the lake.  

He flung his arms up to protect his face from any low branches, continuing to blunder ahead, wanting to get to a far bank of the lake before he dared turn and confront his dangerous pursuer. 

The crashing behind let J know that Danny was still in hot pursuit, but not managing to stay on the path!  Desperate to make the precious extra seconds count, J hurdled the stream straight into a clump of nettles but he still dragged himself up the bank and around the edge of the lake.  The water was still and calm, like a black mirror, waiting to be lit  by the moon next time it emerged from the clouds.

[To be continued …]

Don’t Let Him In (11)

This is part 11 of a serialised spooky tale, Chapter 10 is here, or use the Menu to locate earlier chapters

J moved around the library racking his brain regarding where to look for more answers. In front of him was the ‘global culture’ section, from which a book had fallen on the floor, which he picked up.  “Greek Mythology” its front cover declared, in raised gold script. J opened the book and flicked through the pages, realising as he did so, how many legends had been plundered and used for modern game design.  Turning to the pages relating to the quest carried out by Perseus, his memory began circling the story as if it had something significant to impart.  He remembered the Gorgons with their hair of writhing serpents, the one which Perseus kills was named Medusa.  Pieces clicked together in his mind bringing a revelation as to this story’s usefulness: Perseus had used his mirrored shield to avoid looking directly at Medusa, which enabled him to get close enough to behead her without her enchanted gaze turning him to stone.

At last they were getting somewhere!  He checked out the book then stuffed it into his backpack before hurrying off to afternoon class.

That night J went round to Alex’s house.  He told his parents it was to study but really he wanted to discuss his findings and plot what action to take.  Up in Alex’s slightly messy bedroom, they played music to disguise their conversation if anyone was passing his door.

Being a gamer, Alex was familiar with Perseus’ quest. He thought a reflective object to look into was a great defense if Danny was using his eyes or a swinging/ spinning object to induce a hypnotic state in his victims.  Alex suggested carrying a hand mirror at all times, in preparation for dualling with Danny.  J thought it was simpler to use the ‘camera’ function on a phone, its electronic ‘eye’ would be in no danger from hypnosis.  They both realised the hitch was if Danny was using auto-suggestion. They could  hardly stop themselves ‘hearing’ his words –  using the camera wouldn’t help here. They came up with the idea to put headphones in their ears and turn the music up loud, but admittedly it would be hard to achieve in a hurry.  As a precaution they would both wear their earbuds at school to make it easier to quickly start playing music.

With those practicalities sorted, the next step was where and when, and of course how to tackle Danny!  Alex had team practice after school the next day, and was adamant that J shouldn’t confront Danny alone, he wanted to provide back-up.  J argued that he couldn’t waste any more time, he was heart-sick about his sister Lulu. She remained a pale, frail thing, not waking properly or eating.  His parents were taking her to a specialist as soon as they received a letter of referral from the GP.

J had a plan to confront Danny with their suspicions, and threaten him with exposure to the Headmaster and parents of the affected children.  He hoped Danny could be persuaded to cease his serial hypnotism of small children, and release his current victims from their coma-like state.  J suspected that if the older boy was enraged, he’d be likely to try hypnotising him in retaliation, but was hopeful that the phone camera would act as filter and offer protection.  Alex suggested he could even play the footage back to Danny and hypnotise him with his own technique – that would be a neat way to end his wicked behaviour!  It was risky though, J would have preferred Alex there as wing man. 

With plans made for tomorrow, and a tube of Pringles eaten washed down with a large bottle Pepsi, J set off home with his heart racing.  He felt keyed up about what he must do tomorrow. He made sure to put his phone on charge overnight; he’d need a full battery for playing music to override Danny’s hypnotic words.  

J’s parents were huddled together downstairs talking. His mother’s eyes were red rimmed, as if she’d been crying, but they tried to act normally and wished him goodnight.

[To be continued …]

Don’t Let Him in (part 10)

A spooky tale which is being serialised, see the menu for all the earlier episodes)

It was the usual helter-skelter rush getting ready for school.  Mum and Dad were still worried about Lulu because, unfortunately, she wasn’t showing signs of improvement.  Dad was on the phone to get her a Doctor’s appointment as J slammed the door, in a hurry to get to Alex’s house.  Alex was already on the path, waiting, so they set off at a brisk pace, talking as they walked.  J described the pitiful small boy he dreamed of, the most recent victim of the hypnotic menace.

“Why do you dream about it though?” Alex questioned.

J shrugged. “No idea, I’ve been wondering that myself.  I wake at almost 3 am too, it always happens at the same time.”

“We could Google that.  We also need to watch Danny closely, get an idea of his movements and who he hangs around with. I have a free period before lunch, I’ll do some scouting then.  Meet you in the canteen!”  Shrugging his backpack further onto his shoulder, Alex hustled off to form.

J pushed through double doors, moving with the flow of pupils to their classrooms, keeping his eyes peeled for Katie or Laurie, filled with concern for their wellbeing.  As morning lessons progressed, J’s mind continued to puzzle over what would motivate Danny to control the willpower of the young people he was hypnotising.  Finding the answer to this might influence his next worrying question – how to stop him? 

J’s last lesson before lunch was maths. As Laurie moved into his classroom J’s stomach lurched with shock and fear.  Laurie looked so gaunt and emaciated, his skin was chalky and unhealthy and his movements were slow and shuffling, as if his body was too heavy for him to animate.  His hair looked greasy and uncared for and his eyes were fixed on the floor as he moved to an empty desk.  J felt very uneasy and anxious from his close proximity and he noticed other students casting similar, furtive looks at Laurie.  Once the lesson began the difference was even more marked, as Laurie (once the star maths pupil, widely tipped as an Oxbridge candidate) did not participate at all, he just sat listlessly with his head hanging, like a moving toy with the batteries removed.

J was really troubled by this. It seemed as if Laurie’s life force or spark was gone. Could this be the root of Danny’s motivation? Perhaps stealing from young, vibrant children somehow added to his power.  It was no more crazy than entertaining the idea that an actual vampire went to their school!  

He needed to run the idea by Alex so that they could consider how this would help them tackle him and reverse his influence.  He scraped his books into a pile, dumped them in a backpack and flowed with the rest of the students out of the classroom and towards the dining hall.

He didn’t know how Alex did it, but he was already at a table shovelling food into his mouth with enthusiasm.  J slid into a seat opposite him and shared his latest revelation.  Alex took it in his stride, years of watching the sci-fi channel and reading Marvel comics meant nothing much surprised him.  

“What did you discover?” J asked as he forked up shepherds pie and chewed.

“Danny mostly hangs about with those 2 goth girls in year 13 … and the drama group are putting on a show at the end of term. There are a lot of rehearsals for that going on, meaning he stays after school several nights a week.”

J knew the girls Alex meant, they looked like something out of the Addams Family wearing their hair straight in an unnatural shade of black.  Their chalk white faces with heavy eyeliner and their choice of clothes made them appear as if they were on their way to a rather dramatic funeral. He had a feeling they were both studying textiles, so were probably involved with the costumes for the show.  

J wondered if they knew what Danny was capable of, and if so did they help him?  Would he need to factor them in when he tackled Danny to make him release his hold over the children? He and Alex needed to divide the tasks to tackle this without delay.  He decided he would visit the library for books on hypnotism or auto-suggestion. Alex would continue to scout around to learn more about Danny’s habits and timetable.  

J headed off down the corridor and up the stairs to the library where he began to browse science books, tilting his head to one side to read the titles on their spines.He wasn’t seeing any material which related to his specific problem. He began to feel agitated, as if there was a timer in operation, the sand constantly leaking through the narrow gap between the upper chamber and the lower, with his sister’s life in the balance.  

In desperation he pulled out a book called The Mask of Time by Joan Forman and flicked through it’s pages.  His eyes were drawn to one passage:

When a human organism dies, the matter, the physical body, is seen to change and known to decay.  But a human organism is also energy, electrical, gravitational, magnetic, and on physical death, it ceases to operate through the material structure with which it has been associated.  If energy cannot be destroyed it must therefore remove elsewhere where it may continue to operate according to the laws governing it.

This seemed to support his theory of an ‘energy’ which could be taken from a person, but unfortunately it made him more afraid for the lives of Danny’s victims.  He slammed the book shut and pushed it back into its slot on the crammed shelves. 

[To be continued …]

Don’t Let Him In (9)

This is part of an ongoing chilling series, to read from the beginning, start here.

[4 minute read]

Alex was still at rugby practice when J hurried past his house with his head down.  Unlocking his front door, he went straight to his Dad’s study to find out how Lulu was feeling.

“No change unfortunately. She isn’t eating and has slept most of the day, but she has no temperature. I’ve an appointment to take her to the doctor tomorrow.” 

J had a sinking feeling this wouldn’t help. He really needed to talk to Alex, to plan how to force Danny to break the hypnotic trance his sister was under.  He retired to his room with a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. With his laptop on, he began trying to find new intel on hypnotism and meditation in the hope of identifying a ‘key’ to free the entranced children.

He face-timed Alex and up-dated his friend with what he had pieced together; with music on in the background he successfully masked their conversation.

“Who’d have thought? … Danny?  All the plays I’ve seen him in …” Alex shook his head.

“But that’s probably how he did it! Working with Katie, rehearsing with her, he’d have plenty of opportunities to gaze into her eyes or use a pendulum and hypnotise her” J said.

“What’s with them all saying ‘they let him in’? That really fits with my vampire theories, but Danny looks the same as us.  Do you think he is a vampire?”

J shrugged, he’d never given it serious consideration because he hadn’t believed vampires existed, but he tapped at his keyboard, Googling vampires and the legends surrounding them, he excitedly read one entry aloud.“Glamouring!  Vampire hypnotism is called glamouring, they use eye contact to make their victims happy and relaxed about having their blood sucked.  Perhaps Danny has glamoured them all.”

“Check Lulu’s neck Dude!  See if she’s got fang marks on it.”

“Aargh! Don’t say that!  I can’t even deal with the thought of that!” J was shocked and disgusted at the idea, but he knew it made sense.  It would certainly explain the pale and listless appearance of all the victims.  He planned to take a look at Lulu’s neck sometime that evening, but he needed to avoid raising his parents’ suspicions.

An opportunity presented itself quite innocently, Dad had made a snack of toast and marmite with a drink for Lulu, which J offered to take up to her room. While Dad put the finishing touches on the family’s meal, J cracked the door open and tiptoed into Lulu’s room.  

She was cocooned in her duvet and facing the wall. Murmuring soothing things he gently stroked her hair off his sister’s cheek and away from her neck and peered closely, feeling tense about finding puncture wounds, but there were none. Thank goodness, her neck was unmarked. Her skin was clammy and cool but no bite marks.

“Lulu, do you want a drink?  Or some marmite soldiers?” J used a coaxing tone and pulled her shoulder a little so that she rolled over.  She didn’t rouse out of her sleep but he was able to look at her neck on the other side … phew!  It was also unmarked. J’s relief at this discovery was intense, but looking at her sleeping form he felt sad, and a little scared, what if they couldn’t get her back to normal?

He ate supper with his parents, Then, with the excuse of pressing studies, returned to his room, where he let Alex know that he had found no sinister marks on his sister’s neck.

“Another contradiction to the idea of Danny as a vampire, is that he walks about in the daylight.  He’s not burned or harmed by the sun,” Alex pointed out.

“That rule doesn’t apply in Twilight.  Those guys avoid the sun because it would show their skin is sparkly.” J countered.

“Seriously? Man that’s so weird!  Let’s try to look closely at him in school.” Alex was thoughtful for a moment. “I’ve never noticed his skin glittering.” Then he piped up, “Hey, Twilight’s a chick film?  What’re you watching that for?”

“Hard to avoid it!” J laughed. “They’re always playing the Twilight trilogy on Film4, and my Mum’s a huge vampire fan.”  J felt sure she wouldn’t be a fan if she thought a vamp had been anywhere near Lulu.  

Lulu in the clutches of an undead blood sucker was unthinkable, but he reassured himself no puncture wounds on her neck was a positive thing. Catching a glimpse of the time, he wound up his call with Alex. He still had an English essay to write before he went to bed.

Somehow J was less startled when he snapped out of sleep at 3 am that night. It was becoming a grim routine, so he lay still allowing his senses to ‘feel’ the pressing darkness and whoever or whatever was out there.  His eyes began to focus on the front of a house he didn’t recognise. The streetlight pooled a yellowy glow in its front garden and he could see a gate to the right. This was not latched shut, so it banged softly in the breeze. The darkness had a menace to it, was it possible that Danny was still here? J moved soundlessly, and with dread, through the gate and round the back of the property. He could see in through the conservatory as the occupants kept tropical fish in aquariums, which lit up the room with an eerie glow.  

Pressing his face to a window, and with all his senses on alert, J peered around the interior.  At first he thought there was nobody there, then he spotted a young boy in cartoon pyjamas. His blonde hair stuck up in all directions, as often happens with restless sleepers.  The boy had an unhappy hunch to his body language. He stood repeatedly banging his head against the wall. Hearing his sobs made J’s heart twist, so he tried the handle of the door, but it was locked.  His attempts to gain entry didn’t distract the child and the mournful crying continued.  

His heart was heavy that another young person had fallen under the evil influence. J speculated that this boy had wanted an entertainer for his party and so Danny had visited the house, “let in” by the boy’s unwitting parents.  Danny would give no clue regarding his sinister nature when he called round to make plans about performing as a clown.  

J had never trusted clowns, they gave him the heebie-jeebies!  As a young boy he’d found their thick make up, especially the painted on smile and eye expressions, highly suspect.  He’d swerved invitations to attend any party with a clown on the agenda for just that reason. How ironic that his immature suspicions had truth behind them!  Looking at the distressed boy, who he couldn’t get close enough to comfort, J knew he would be a pale and listless trance-induced state by morning, he wished fervently that he would not be proved right.

[To be continued …]

Don’t Let Him In (6)

A chilling tale, told in installments

When J’s alarm began beeping the next morning, it was accompanied by smells of bacon & toast wafting upstairs. He felt light with relief that he hadn’t had a dream about anyone new being traumatised by the mystery ‘man’.  Yet this was the puzzle, his chief suspect was the new Librarian, who was a woman.  Was it possible that she wore a disguise when she took control of the minds of the children?  J suspected that if he could see a ‘pattern’ to those chosen as her victims, then maybe he could get a better handle on solving the mystery.  He made sure he had the hypnotism printouts tucked in his rucksack before heading out of the door to meet Alex.

Lulu waved goodbye from the back-seat of his Mum’s car. She was beaming from ear to ear with excitement, her party invitations clutched in her hand, twinkling with the holographic stickers she’d added the night before.  Sometimes, when he looked at his sister, he yearned for the simplicity of his days at primary school, but most of the time he was glad to have left the claustrophobia of that tiny school and its mostly spinster teachers behind.

J joined the steady stream of red blazers and black suits heading out of Cranberry Gardens towards St Ethelred’s, pleased to see Alex was already waiting for him outside his house.  They fell into step with one another. Alex was keen for an up-date, quizzing J as to whether he’d had one of his dreams the previous night.

“No, thank goodness! So maybe no new zombies today!  I did learn a lot about hypnotism though.” 

With that he passed Alex the pages which he’d recently downloaded from Google. Although impatient to discuss it, J needed to give his friend time to read and absorb the information, so he stayed quiet letting Alex read as he walked.

Finally J put forward his theory that perhaps the Librarian wore a disguise, which could be why the kids hypnotised so far kept talking about letting ‘him’ in.

“Vampire!” Alex butted in excitedly.  “A vampire can’t come into your home unless you invite them!”

This seemed an undisputed piece of vampire folklore, mentioned in all the vampire films the boys had ever watched.  They thrashed  this idea around as they continued down to the school gate. Somehow the idea of a vampire existing in their home town seemed too far fetched, surely they weren’t real?

“See you at lunch,” Alex called over his shoulder before he headed off to English class.

Still puzzling, J made his way to the language block for a double lesson of German.

When lunchtime rolled around, they picked up their conversation where they’d left off.  The vampire theory seemed less viable, instead J wanted to pursue the Librarian for more clues.

“Hey!  What if she’s a dude disguised as a woman?  Y’know, like in Mrs Doubtfire?!”   Alex was warming to his theme. “She is pretty old and caked in powdery make-up.  Her hair could easily be a wig!”  

J couldn’t help laughing at the idea.  However, the laughter died in his throat as Laurie walked past their table, looking pale and haggard.  The shadows under his eyes were pronounced and his movements were robotic. On his tray he carried an unopened carton of milk and a shrink wrapped pork pie, with which he sat down alone, at a remote, empty table.

The two friends watched him in silence, as he stared into space, making no move to eat the food he had purchased.

“That’s seriously weird,” remarked Alex, who was always hungry due to the amount of sports he played.

“Yeah,” J nodded, feeling guilty that he couldn’t think of a way to help.  “We’ve got to get to the bottom of this.  You still want to investigate the Coach?”  

He and Alex dumped their plates and trays at the hatch and spent the rest of their lunch break hanging round the pavilion trying to see in through the windows looking for clues amongst the stored sports equipment; they didn’t have much success.   Alex had Rugby practice after school, so he intended to try to get into the building on some sort of pretext then, offering to untangle the bibs or some such helpful tactic.

J made his way across the quad , heading for his next lesson, and that’s when he spied Laurie again.  He was at the heavy double doors into the main school building which housed Reception, the assembly hall and Drama, because they liked to utilise the stage.  The Music block was accessible from here too, several practice rooms and a couple of classrooms ran down the outside wall of the building.  

J was curious as to where Laurie was going, because as far as he knew Laurie studied neither music nor drama.  He didn’t have time to investigate, but his mind was turning over facts all afternoon looking for the pattern.  The last thing he wanted to acknowledge was that the common factor which was linking the trance-like children was him!

[To be continued …]

Don’t Let Him in (5)

A chilling tale, told in installments

In synchronised silence, Alex and J moved swiftly through the swing doors, J pointed to Alex then at the office, then indicated his own chest he gestured towards the computer. Each set off on their separate missions.  J moved stealthily and clicked the computer mouse. When it brought on screen what the Librarian had last been looking at, he shook his head at her casualness in not locking the computer when she stepped away, while being hugely grateful that she hadn’t! An inventory page loaded, she was in the process of placing an order for more books – nothing very surprising there. What had she minimised in the toolbar? A database of student names & their library pass codes, a timetable of classes using the Library for study sessions and internet explorer. What had she been researching on the internet? Opening it, he felt a jolt of excitement: hypnotists! She‘d been researching hypnotism in its many forms.

Just then J heard the squeak of the back office door as it swung open. Immediately he ducked low and sidled away from the desk. He didn’t straighten up till he was safely between two bookshelves crammed with paperbacks and hardbacks, all neatly ordered by category. He could hear Alex talking, but in that low voice people use in libraries, so J had no idea what he was saying. 

When the Librarian moved in his direction, her sensible shoes made a faint squeak on the parquet floor. J grabbed a random book off the crowded shelf. He took it over to her, fishing his library card out of his inside blazer pocket as he walked.

The Librarian tapped a few keys and moved the mouse. The printer sprang to life and whirred until a piece of paper came out. As she turned away to grab it, Alex delivered J a subtle wink.

“Thank you Miss. I’m sure my Library card is somewhere at home, but you’ll save my bacon if I can get some study books out for tonight.”

“This is valid for one week.” She observed him sternly over her glasses. “If you haven’t found your card by then, you had better see me to arrange a replacement.”

Alex took the temporary pass. She turned her attention to J, who proffered his book. As she entered the reference code she looked at him rather strangely – he kept his face blank. Not until they were a way down the corridor did he look at the book’s title. He burst out laughing,  “Lacemaking Through the Ages”. No surprise she wondered why he needed that!

“What did you find out?” J asked Alex. 

They were walking briskly, urgently needing to retrieve books from their lockers for afternoon lessons.

“Not much really. Too many posters & flyers obstructing the glass panels.” He shook his head. “She did look furtive. I saw her putting a big jar of pills into her handbag. Which, by the way, also looks like something from a museum! What did you find?”

“We may be onto something – she’d been researching hypnotism on the internet. I’ll run the same search at home tonight and see if I can get a bit more info.” 

J could tell Alex was impressed, but before they could talk more the bell rang, summoning them back to class.

When he got home from school, J was greeted by his sister Lulu, excitedly flapping a pink postcard at him.

“What’ve you got there Lulu?”

“A party invitation. MY PARTYYYYY!” she squealed and twirled round making her checked summer dress flare out like a bell.

J took the invitation from her hand to read.

“So Lulu, karaoke AND a clown?”

“Yes J. And there will be balloons and dancing and a Disney Princess cake.”

“Wow! Lucky you. Will you give the invitations out to your friends at school tomorrow?”

“Mmm hmm.” She followed him out to the kitchen and watched him make a sandwich. 

“Can I have a milkshake please J?”

He reached up to get a glass, then filled it with milk and added spoonfuls of strawberry powder. As he stirred it he looked at his little sister, at her thick blonde plaits and grey blue eyes, noticing an air of sweet innocence. He handed her the glass and she padded off down the hall, silent in white cotton socks. Seconds later he heard the blurt of the television as his sister settled down to watch cartoons.

J made himself a drink and took his sandwich upstairs. Passing his Dad’s study door he pushed it open. His Dad sat at the computer, but he wasn’t writing; he was drinking coffee and scrolling on his phone – it was OK to interrupt.

“How’s it going? Did you get much written today?”

“Yes. I had a bit of a breakthrough actually, I got a lot done. How about you? School good?”

“Er – guess so.” 

J flicked his fringe out of his eyes. He didn’t feel like sharing details of the recent weirdness with his Dad. Change of subject required.

“Lulu’s party sounds cool Dad.”

“I hope so. She wanted something none of her friends had done, and I saw the clown-guy’s card in the newsagent’s window. You might know him actually – he goes to your school. Danny something – Randall is it?” 

His Dad looked at him expectantly.

“Oh yeah. Does drama, year 12.” J nodded his head, he’d seen Danny in some school plays. 

Biting into his sandwich he moved off to his room. The dog got up from under his Dad’s desk and, having stretched followed J and his sandwich.

J opened his laptop, eating while he waited for his desktop to populate with various icons.  He chucked his crusts to the drooling dog, who caught them mid-air, then typed ‘Hypnosis’ into Google, checking Wikipedia first.

  • Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. The term may also refer to an art, skill, or act of inducing hypnosis.
  • Theories explaining what occurs during hypnosis fall into two groups. Altered state theories see hypnosis as an altered state of mind or trance, marked by a level of awareness different from the ordinary conscious state.

J conceded that both Laurie & Katie seemed to be in an altered state of mind, blanking out their friends and exhibiting reduced emotional responses.  What puzzled him was how the Librarian was doing it, and for what purpose?  

He stroked the dog’s head absently. It snuffled around his desk hoping for more food, then plodded back down the hall to curl up on the dog bed in his Dad’s study.  As J clicked on more links he learned that hypnotism did not require the ‘subject’ to be sent to sleep. There were also more subtle ways to hypnotise than swinging a pendulum in front of someone’s eyes.  In fact it could work on the power of suggestion, and a normal conversation peppered with key command words could be used to trigger ‘mental obedience’. 

J printed off the most relevant passages to show to Alex tomorrow, then he cracked open his books and started on his German translation homework.

[To be continued]

Don’t Let Him In (4)

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?”

“No, never.”

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]

Don’t Let Him In (3)

[Part 3]

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 …]

Don’t Let Him In (2)

[Part 2]

In that instant the moon was cleared of clouds and J was shocked to recognise Laurie, a boy he knew from school. His sweaty hair stuck to his forehead and cheeks and there was a sickly pallor to his skin that had nothing to do with the moonlight. Now, more curious than afraid, J moved closer and called out Laurie’s name.

Hey Laurie, what’s up?”

The other boy took a moment to focus, blinking rapidly. His chest heaved with ragged breaths. J tried again.

What are you doing out? It’s really late.”

They let him in.” Laurie’s voice was shaky, barely a whisper.

What?” said J, “they let who in?”

Laurie just shook his head, his expression haunted.

I was safe until they opened the door and let him in.”

The alarm clock’s electronic bleating dragged J to the surface from his dream. His Dad threw his bedroom door open and poked his head into the room.

“Fancy a boiled egg J?”

“Unh – maybe.”

J was struggling to adjust to the fact that it was a normal morning and that the creepy events of last night had only been a dream. His long legs swung off the side of the bed. Rubbing his head, he tried to rouse himself from the sleepiness which clung. Outside his door were the sounds of normality, his younger sister talking to the dog and clatters in the kitchen from his Dad getting breakfast. Now he was hungry.

It wasn’t until J slammed the front door half an hour later, to set off for school, that he allowed himself to think about the strange events which had troubled his sleep. As he walked round Cranberry Gardens he passed Laurie’s house. Everything there appeared to be normal. He scanned the wall and the bushes, looked up at the window of Laurie’s room, but nothing seemed odd. Nothing to add to or detract from last night’s dream.

J loped on. A glance at his watch told him there was no time to dawdle, he had to meet Alex and get to class. He passed some junior boys from his school, the younger years wore cherry red blazers. A cut through the twitchell trimmed 5 minutes off his journey to school. He risked snagging brambles and mud on his shoes, but the twitchell came out opposite Alex’s house and most kids from Cranberry Gardens used it on route to St Ethelred’s High School.

At the front door he waited at the door for Alex to grab his rucksack, more pupils passed by. The girls clutched their folders to their chests or had colourful bags slung over their shoulders. Boys walked, hands deep in pockets, in separate groups – not many boys had the nerve to walk downhill to school in the company of a girl.

J’s attention was caught by Laurie passing by – his eyes were downcast and his face pale. J called out to his friend – he passed right by Alex’s drive. Laurie didn’t look up – didn’t even seem to hear him.

“What are you calling him for?” Alex was ready now, a piece of toast in one hand. With the other he struggled to shrug on the black blazer worn by the senior boys at St Ethelred’s.

“Homework,” J stalled, unwilling to talk about his strange dream just yet. “Wanted to know how he got on with the maths questions.”

Alex was not in the same set for maths, so he didn’t ask any more questions. Alex was a school ‘sports hero’: captain of the Rugby team, he also represented the school for long jump. J and Alex didn’t share many classes now they were seniors, but had been friends since their time at play school when both were fascinated by dinosaurs.

The two boys walked downhill, with only a few minutes left til registration, the Head was a stickler for punctuality. Luckily they could use the side gate into school – juniors had to use the main gate, at the bottom of the hill and round the corner. Darting through the narrow gateway, Alex & J cut across the quad into a low, flat-roofed building that housed their classroom. Miss Read had not yet checked the register. They sat in their usual places and another school day began.

Second lesson was Maths. J was keen to try talking to Laurie again, so he took a desk by the window, alongside him.

“Hey Laurie, how’s it going?”

Laurie looked up slowly – his eyes dull and vacant. He looked at J, or rather he looked through him. Then he looked away. Which was strange, but not as strange as his behaviour during the class. Laurie was a gifted pupil at maths, but he didn’t engage with questions or answers, in fact he didn’t participate at all. 

J craned his neck to see his notes, but Laurie had not answered any of the problems. When the lesson ended Laurie scooped up his books and left the room, without trying to catch up with his friends or talk to anyone. J was puzzled – the boy seemed a shell of his usual self. Was any of this in relation to what he’d seen in his dream?

[To be continued]