Catch up on Magic in London here: https://ashleymanning.com/magic-in-london/
Fiona and Chuck moved through the rest of the school as quickly as they could, freeing classrooms from skeleton teachers as they did. Most of the rooms were empty, but every so often they would find a classroom filled with students in a trance as the skeleton wrote increasingly violent and weird things over and over.
“Are these real?” Chuck asked after Fiona smashed a skull into a countless number of pieces.
“Kind of. The kid made them. They would be able to hurt you if they attacked, but they weren’t real people, so you don’t need to worry about that.”
“Oh, I hadn’t even thought about that. Good to know.”
They got into a routine quickly. Fiona would go in, scatter the bones and Chuck would follow to grab the skull so Fiona could shatter it.
“Do any of you know where Tommy is?” she asked some of the children, and every time they replied with stunned silence.
“Where are the actual teachers?” Chuck asked as they walked through the school.
“That’s a good question and I’m sure we’ll find the answer soon enough.”
They moved up to the top floor of the school, taking the stairs two at a time. With how easy the skeletons had been to take down, they were feeling confident that the rest would be easy enough. At the top of the stairs was a door without a window labelled ‘staff room’. Fiona moved straight passed it, heading to the next row of classrooms. Chuck stopped in front of the door.
“Fiona?” he said quietly. “I think we should check I here.”
She stopped, turned around and came back to the door just as Chuck was opening it. Inside was a mess of blood, guts, and body limbs.
“What is this?” Chuck said, his whole body turning to jelly and any confidence he’d gained with fighting the skeletons drained quicker than the blood did from his face.
“It’s a massacre,” Fiona said.
She stepped into the room, blood squelching under her feet as she did.
“This is real,” she continued. “This isn’t an illusion. You can smell it. That kid killed all of these teachers.”
“And we’re here to bring him back to Whistling?”
“Just because he did it, doesn’t mean he meant to or that he even understands what’s happened.”
“Still, I don’t think it’s safe to have him around.”
“It’s not your decision, just as it isn’t mine. And anyway, we can’t exactly leave him here. Let’s just carry on, we must be close.”
Chuck closed the door and followed Fiona down the hall. They were back to a slow walk, whispering, and not wanting to be found.
“What happens to them now?” Chuck asked as quietly as possible.
“What do you mean?”
“The teachers. You said that there’s a kind of spell over everyone here and they won’t remember this later. What about the teachers, if they’re really dead. What happens to them?”
“Nothing. Arthur will make sure that they get buried and everyone moves on and no one will exactly know what happened. He’ll place a mental block in everyone’s heads, so they don’t put two and two together and never question why so many died at one time. In a few days new teachers will be brought in, and everything will continue. They’ll just feel an urge to up and quit their existing jobs and move here. For the next couple of months everything will be hazy and then it’ll all be clear again.”
“That’s way too detailed of an answer.”
“It’s not the first time something like this has happened. You know Toby, right? His friend destroyed a church in his hometown and not a single person remembers it was even there. Arthur scrubbed it from history.”
“He’s that powerful?”
“Yes. He’s incredibly powerful, but he wouldn’t be able to do it if it was something significant. If this was like Oxford or if it was Big Ben that got destroyed, then he wouldn’t be able to cloud everyone’s memories. There would be too many people who know about it and too many recorded documents showing it.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s scary to think that everything in life can be manipulated to that extent. That I could have a different job tomorrow purely because some wizard, sorry whistler, makes it that way. That’s scary too me. Talk about no free will.”
“He doesn’t do it often, and only if there’s no other choices.”
“I’m sure that’s the case, but it’s still not a nice thought. All those people back there are dead, and no one will care enough to remember why.”
“Such is life. Most people aren’t remembered for very long after they die and none of us will be remembered in a million years. Being remembered doesn’t mean anything.”
“I do try.”
“I don’t think you do,” Chuck said with a half-smile.
They carried on walking down the corridor and didn’t find another classroom filled with students. Most of the rooms were just empty cupboards filled with supplies. At the end of the corridor, hidden around a corner and with a sofa outside next to a table with a bunch of wilted flowers on it, was the headteacher’s room.
“This has to be where he is, right?” Chuck said.
“I’d guess so. We’ve checked almost everywhere else. You stay behind me, and only do something if I tell you to. He might come peacefully if we just speak to him.”
Fiona opened the door wide and stepped inside, leaving Chuck in the doorway. Sitting at the desk was a small child, couldn’t have been more than eleven years old Chuck guessed. His eyes were closed, and he was sitting up straight, as if in meditation. If he knew that Fiona was getting closer, he made no signs of it.
“Tommy?” Fiona asked as she reached the desk. “Are you okay?”
The boy didn’t move, he was just as still as he’d been when they first entered the room. Fiona didn’t move for a few seconds. Her grip was tight around the knife. Chuck could see that Tommy was breathing, but he didn’t seem to be conscious. In that moment he forgot about the death in the room down the hall, the well, the students being captured. There was a peaceful feeling in the air, which was quickly destroyed by the horse skeleton bursting through the window to the side, shattering glass around the room. It neighed, it’s mane ablaze in fire, and looked towards Chuck and Fiona with anger in its hollowed eyes.
To Be Continued…
Part Seventeen is available here: https://ashleymanning.com/2023/04/14/magic-in-london-enrolment-part-17/ ! Don’t forget to subscribe to never miss a post:
Pingback: Magic in London: Enrolment – Part 15 | Ashley Manning