A/N: While this may seem inspired by the likes of "Silent Hill", it is actually born from the novella "Angel of Darkness", by Charles de Lint. The story, originally published in 1990, under the name of Samuel M. Key, could arguably be the inspiration for many horror/dark fantasy stories. If you should come across this book, recently republished, under the author's true name, by Orb books, then I highly recommend that you purchase it, and read it as quickly as you can.
In The Darkness Of Day
Jeremy jolted, that awkward moment when you suddenly realize that you're sleeping when you shouldn't be, and he looked about the classroom to see if anyone had caught him napping. His fear of embarrassment became only fear as he saw that he was no longer in "his" classroom, but that he was in the "other" classroom.
The desk that he sat at was the only one left intact, the only one not smashed and twisted or rotting and rusted. The teacher's desk looked as if it had been crushed between two trucks, now an oblong piece of rusted metal and splintered wood that stood at the front of the room like some abstract tee-pee. Papers and textbooks littered the floor, covering every inch of it, and was at least a foot deep.
Most disturbing were the words etched onto what remained of the chalkboard, looking more like they were written with blood that had long ago dried than with chalk. Words that struck home with Jeremy, that were deeply personal, and which cut away at the young man he was trying to become.
Waste of fucking flesh and bone.
These were the type of phrases written on the board, and as he read them, he heard his stepfather's voice screaming them at him, just like he had twelve years ago.
"This isn't supposed to be happening," muttered Jeremy, rising from his seat and wading through the trash towards the door. "It's not time, yet."
The hallway was in only mildly better shape, with the trash not quite covering the entire floor, a pathway seeming to have been worked through it, as if the hallway were regularly traversed.
The silence weighed heavily on Jeremy, the crunching of stray papers and bits of pencils as he walked the only sounds to be heard, and it was more than a bit unnerving. If it had been the middle of the night, with him sneaking around the school, the silence would have been acceptable, even desirable. But now, in the middle of the day, with sunlight battling its way through grime-encrusted windows, it was more unsettling than anything.
Jeremy halted as he detected a new sound. It was distant, coming from somewhere outside of the school, but it was there. It sounded, at first, like music, but as it drew nearer and became more audible, he realized that it was not music made by any instrument.
It flowed and pulsed with the energy of life, but not of the living of life. It was the music of the ending of life. The notes were made of screams, and cries, and whimpers, and moans, and the rattles of death, and it sang of the deepest, darkest places in the human soul.
Jeremy had heard the music before, many years ago, on his second visit to this "other" place, and he knew that it meant that the woman was close by.
He broke out in a cold sweat as he thought of her, of the first-and only-time that he had seen her, and of the horrors that she was. He had only seen her from a distance, from a block away, but that had been enough, and he was determined never to see her up close.
The eerie music was overpowered by a new sound, the sound of someone running and screaming, and Jeremy spun around, staring down the hallway.
Stumbling to the floor as he cleared the corner, Zeke Keller looked about in terror, his wide eyes locking with Jeremy's.
Zeke Keller was the last person that Jeremy expected to see in here in the "other", not that he had ever expected to see anyone else here at all, and he certainly had never thought that he would see the team's star quarterback looking so terrified.
Jeremy took a step back in fear, uncertain of what he was experiencing, never before having seen another living person in the "other".
"Bowman," yelled Keller, struggling to his feet. "What the hell's going on? Where is everyone?"
Jeremy's answer caught in his throat as she suddenly appeared, floating through the wall behind Zeke, the cacophony of her music spilling from her open mouth to fill the entire building with her symphony of misery.
Zeke spun about, his cry of terror inaudible in her presence, and he dropped to his knees.
When he had seen her from a distance, Jeremy had been instinctively scared of her. Now, he was absolutely terrified.
Her clothes were tattered rags, floating about her body as she hovered before Zeke, her eyes reflecting the sheer terror of the youth.
Her mouth opened impossibly wide, slithering, snake-like tentacles emerging from the blackness of her maw, and she unleashed her cleansing fire.
Zeke's skin burned and melted away, from the top of his skull to his stomach, his flesh peeled away to leave a husk that was half body and half charred skeleton.
The wraith retreated back the through the wall, leaving the smoldering ruin of Zeke Keller kneeling in the hallway, and Jeremy fought back the bile that was clawing at the back of his throat.
As his mind tried to deal with what he had just witnessed, Jeremy became aware that there was another person there, standing at the far end of hallway, occupying the space in which the wraith had been floating.
It was a girl, and she seemed vaguely familiar, but her features were blurred, her details hidden behind an orange glow that radiated from her. She smiled at Jeremy, a bittersweet expression that sent a chill down his spine, and then waved at him as she drifted down the side hallway.
Jeremy blinked in confusion as water began raining down on him. The world suddenly shifted, and he was no longer in the desolate school of the "other" place, but back in the real world.
The hallway was filled with students and teachers that were frantically trying to escape the building, covering their heads with books and coats to ward off the water being poured down from the school sprinkler system.
"Where in the hell did you come from?" asked Mister Fryer, one of the science teachers, as he grabbed Jeremy by the arm and directed him to move with the other students.
Casting a glance back down the hallway, barely visible through the panicked rush of bodies, Jeremy caught a glimpse of the kneeling form of Zeke Keller, engulfed in raging flames.