FOREWORD: I tried to write a story without monsters, but clearly I couldn't resist this idea. This story is not for the faint of heart, if you are easily disturbed you should not read this story. You have been warned.
Struggling to keep up with the principal, Catherine Navarre worried silently about her first day as a substitute teacher. The polished halls of the school glided around her as she followed the plump woman further into the labyrinth.
"Are you ready?" Came a warm but sharp voice. The principal, Emma Brennan stood beside a blue door. Catherine didn't reply, but looked in the window at the children sitting inside. A small class, thirteen or fourteen students. The seven year olds were playing and chattering as they awaited their teacher and the days work.
"Lets go then." The principal encouraged her. She opened the door and walked through, holding it open for the substitute.
As soon as the door opened, the children ran to their seats and faced the front of the class, some still chattering. Catherine might have smiled, but the faces simply stared at her blankly, discouraging her. The principal led her up the side of the class room, to the opposite end where the teacher's desk was located.
"Now students, Mrs. Ripoll is away sick today, this is Ms. Navarre."
Almost immediately the class broke into a chant of "Good morning Ms. Navarre." It was hardly enthusiastic, particularly for children in the second grade. The two adults looked at each other, Principal Brennan exposing her small teeth in a wide smile. She turned and left the room, closing the door behind her.
Catherine quickly put her books down on the teacher's desk and took out a piece of chalk to write her name on the board. It was more a distraction than anything, the leering children unsettling her, making her want to turn away. She lifted her right hand up to the dark green board and began writing. No sooner had she completed the "M" than a piece of paper flew across her desk and hit the wall.
Despite her better judgment, she decided to let it go for the moment. She started to write again, now starting on her last name. N... A... V... A... Then something flicked her hair, something small and white in the corner of her eye. A spit ball had been fired and now the children were laughing hysterically at the chewed paper stuck to her head.
Not willing to let the students get away with this mischief, she turned to face them. The children sat straight in their chairs and looked at her, knowing discipline was coming. Something more horrifying sat in the corner of the room.
Covering the doorway was a large black tree trunk of a thing. It had large orange pustules all over and a large gaping mouth lined with tiny serrated teeth. It was silent, and the children hadn't noticed it. Catherine froze with shock, unable to process what she was seeing. Tentacles reached across the ceiling and along the floor, disappearing behind the rows of desks.
Was she hallucinating? Was she just crazy? The children hadn't seemed to notice anything, but still she didn't warn them. A girl in the back corner, nearest the monster stared back at her. The substitute had watched the excitement of scaring the teacher turn into the same primal fear which burnt through Ms. Navarre's veins.
A tentacle reached down and grabbed her, its orange barbs ripping effortlessly through her skin. The rest of the class spun around at the noise, seeing the burnt creature coiling its wiry tendrils around the girl. Some screamed and ran into the opposite corner, some simply sat and watched, mouths open in horror.
A boy with short red hair started to cry, causing others to do the same. Catherine was transfixed by the bloodshed. A pool of drips now formed in front of the monstrosity, red collecting between the tiles. It had played with its food long enough. The beast popped the screaming girl in its mouth and chewed.
The children squealed and wept as their class mate was torn to shreds in front of their eyes. The sound of cartilage being ripped and bones being crushed would have made anyone sick. Blood splattered out of its mouth, coating the desks with small pieces of flesh and muscle.
By the time the feast was over most of the children had made their way to the corner next to the teachers desk. The substitute snapped out of her stupor and now looked at the only student still seated. A small boy with black hair and fair skin had his face screwed up and in his hands. Tiny freckles of his friend's blood coated him lightly.
Yellow eyes like tennis balls, the beast now looked at the child too. Snakes of black now slithered along the floor, spreading trails of blood underneath the desks again. Catherine let herself breath again and decided to act. She ran around the desks to the boy and wrapped her arms around him. Picking him up in a motherly hug, the monster in the corner had other ideas. With a whip like movement, the thorny vine slashed at Catherine, slicing her arm open and spraying the desk in blood. She gasped, feeling the skin continue to split after the contact. The child still clung to her as the rest of the class banged on the windows, begging for attention like they would have years ago.
The snake coiled back, ready to strike again as the eyes of its master narrowed on the teacher. Losing feeling in her hand, she quickly turned and took the child back to the corner.
Exhausted somehow, she could feel relief after setting the child down. Like a shepard she had to protect the little lambs, save them from the fate of the other girl.
Catherine stood facing the corner, no longer watching the whittled old stump of death which had rooted itself in the doorway. The children seemed calmer seeing her there. A small group of girls sat in the corner balling their eyes out, no doubt friends of the first victim. The rest of the children were either staring at the creature or banging the windows yelling for rescue. Catherine realized now that they were trapped. Her arm was bleeding a lot and she doubted she would be able to protect the kids for much longer.
Three black lines shot from behind her, each latching onto a child. As quickly as they had been snatched they were gone, the coils of black growth peeling the skin from them. Mouths open in agony, the students were unable to scream, the air crushed from their lungs. Bloody drag marks were the only indication they'd even existed, small pieces of torn clothing and soft skin littering the ground.
Now facing the destruction once again, Catherine watched as one by one they were loudly crunched to pieces by grinding teeth. The brutality of this thing eating the children made her sick. She clasped a hand to her lips, not allowing herself to scream or vomit. Her eyes screwed up behind her rectangular glasses and her face turned scarlet. Now kneeling, she saw the last student's mangled remains get thrown into the saw like teeth.
Mouth open, it chewed bones and shoes falling out onto the ground before it. No noise was made as it paused for a second. Its eyes watered a little, as if it had bit its tongue. The moment lasted an eternity, the teacher daring to peer at its gaping intake. Without warning it spat out a large piece of shredded skin. It didn't make it to the desk in front of it, but the cloud of blood which filled the room managed to coat everything. A tiny something thudded the floor lightly in front of the substitute. She couldn't bare to look, but found herself doing it anyway. A miniature foot, covered in blood and removed at the ankle sat in a pool of red cells. The little piggies at the end were untouched.
Crimson mist filled the classroom, all inside it now caked in the wet innards of the infants. The desperate thrashing against the windows resumed, more insistent than ever. Catherine sat still on the floor, contemplating what could happen. Why hadn't the creature tried to eat her? Perhaps she was too large and didn't taste as good. She couldn't know for sure. Her brain rattled around, trying to formulate a way to save the kids.
Maybe she could put the desk up in the corner and sit behind it with the children. This didn't appeal to her, as failure would result in more death. They had to be saved, they had to escape. Tentacles whacked the ground, possibly signaling a further helping. Urgency flushed through her, forcing her to think faster, to act on the situation.
She got up and strode over to the teachers desk. Searching the drawers something silver and sharp caught her eye, a pair of old scissors. They were quite sharp and heavy, reminding her of her grandmothers sewing tools. Unable to think of another way she said her first words to the class.
"Ok boys and girls, this is very scary. I need you to climb out of the windows."
The nippers seemed scared by the idea. On the third story of the school, it seemed such a scary idea to a seven year old. The rotted black eating machine in the doorway was scary too however, and Catherine knew she might have to make their choice for them. She held the shears like a dagger and walked back into the centre of the room.
She felt distant now; far from everything in the no mans land. Dark shapes moved behind the desks, bumping chairs and shifting tables. Making her way through the lifeless abyss to the monster, she continued to forge a plan. She was a skinny woman, no older than thirty. Brown clothing was the option of the day, although now it looked like she'd been dipped in a vat of blood. Her arm was still stinging, but her brain was more damaged. Who's brain wouldn't be after witnessing these events?
Now feet from the snarling face of the beast, the yolk like eyes centered on her. Foolishly she thought she would be able to fight the creature and protect the children, but now she wasn't so sure. Scissors at the ready, she took the last few steps.
A crack behind her knees sent her falling to the ground. Now she was sure it wasn't interested in her. Her face now seared with pain, her glasses now rose tinted. She lay on the ground with her legs unable to pick her up. Retreat her only option; she began looking to the kids.
As per her instructions the children were now climbing out the window. One leg at a time, they slowly collected themselves as they stood on the ledge. Maybe they were smarter than she thought, but they decided to jump, realizing only death and horror would await them if they stayed. Tears or pain brought her back to the floor, washing away some of the caked blood around her eyes.
Her arms were barely capable of moving, but somehow they dragged her body across the floor. Like rock climbing on the horizontal, each movement was like pulling herself up a cliff face. Black serpents slithered with her, having withdrawn for the take down. They were now focused on the children again.
Catherine finally made her way to a desk and pulled herself up. Now standing, her head was light and rolled lazily on her shoulders. Adrenaline replaced energy, motherly instinct inspiring her. Three little girls sat in the corner, still crying, refusing to jump out of the window. The substitute knew that she had to protect them, even if it meant her own life. But would this be enough.
Now racing the creature's reaching arms across the room, she kicked her knee on one of the low desks. She kept moving, unable to stop herself, as if she was a bystander to her own actions.
The girls in the corner all had blonde hair, now a strawberry color. One wore a frilly little dress which was now drenched in the remains of her friends. Still crying, she surrendered to the hug of Catherine, who held her close. The other girls were clinging onto the teacher, begging to see their mothers. The teacher let the sadness of this ripple through her, taking it all in, stopping only when her heart did.
The two girls excluded from the hug were now gone. Catherine turned to face the monster and watched as two pairs of kicking legs were dragged across the room. Pieces of children's clothes were thrown across the room as once again the beast skinned the girls alive. As it had before, the creature chewed them loudly, flecks of phlegm and guts spraying Catherine and the last little girl.
Ms. Navarre pulled the princess like child away from her body, understanding what must be done. The tentacles were craving more and knew where to get it. Catherine took the girl, now holding her at arms length, to the window. It remained open and so she sat the little angel on the sill.
"Please, Ms. Navarre, don't push me out..." Pleaded the girl. Her glasses still somewhat bloodied, she did her best to console her.
"It's ok; I'll be right behind you. Just be brave and everything will be ok, I promise." Her voice was shaky, but all she could offer. The child pulled her arms outside the window, allowing Catherine to remove her glasses.
The little girl let go and dived out from the window. Ms. Navarre now knew why she hadn't wanted to jump. On the ground below was harsh concrete, littered with the bodies of the boys and girls who had left the window. Broken bones and split skulls were the backdrop, as Catherine watched the girl flip around helplessly. Black somethings slithered around the teachers legs and burned her skin off as she watched the girl fall in slow motion, her dress flapping around gracefully. It ended with a sickening crack as she landed headfirst onto the hard ground. Her heart sunken and dead, Catherine allowed the tentacled creature which had now cocooned her to pull her away and make her its next meal.