Category Archives: Supernatural

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]

Don’t Let Him In (1)

Chapter 1

J awoke with a start – his skin was clammy and he could feel his hair stuck to his neck and forehead. He blinked in the dark bedroom and tried to orientate himself – what time was it? The blue glow of his alarm clock told him that it was near to 3 am. He knew he was in his room, it felt familiar and his bunk bed creaked as he moved but, he knew something had woken him, and the ‘something’ felt bad.

He lay absolutely still, trying to ‘feel ‘ the darkness without moving. He listened so hard he wondered if the sheer effort of concentration might make his ears tilt to catch sound – but there was nothing out of the ordinary. The house was still, the rest of his family probably sound asleep and the dog, despite being on point as a guard dog during the day, was probably snoring downstairs in the kitchen. Whatever had jolted J awake made no such impression on his family. Unable to shake a feeling of menace, J tried retracing his steps using his subconscious. In trying to make himself remember what he’d been dreaming, the feeling of dread pressed in on him once more.

J found himself on the street – the familiar route he took to and from school – yet it was wrong somehow. It was night time and the moon bathed the trees and gardens with an eerie silver glow. The wind moved the branches and clouds scudded along at quite a pace, while the first autumn leaves made scuttling noises as they were lifted and swirled on pavements and drives. J moved towards home, unsure why he was out so late. He cast his eyes to either side looking for danger. 

Suddenly his heart leapt in his chest when something lurched out of the shadows. It was a cat! Keeping low to the ground and emitting a yowl, it flashed past him to disappear just as quickly into the shadows of a nearby hedge. What had startled the cat J wondered? His own heart was still hammering when he saw a frail hunched figure near the garden wall.

J could make out that it was a child, the body was too slender to be a man, but it was hard to discern the features. J drew closer, whilst keeping to the shadows of the hedge.

[To be continued …]