My hand scrabbled around and crashed down upon the off button as the noise of the alarm yanked me out of my sleep. My eyelids were made of lead - I forced them open and fought to keep them open.
Yet another school day. I glanced at the little clock beside my window - it was half past eight - and I realised I would probably be late for school. Again.
Hah, I thought. Like I care.
I dragged myself out of bed, and went over to look outside of my window. The sun hadn't appeared yet - He was still sleeping behind the rolling hills in the distance. It was November, after all. I lived in Yorkshire. It was always miserable here. My street was dark, and everything appeared to be grey - the houses, cars, trees, grass -
"Olly!" Mum called.
Give me a break.
"Yes"?" I responded.
"Felix is here! Hurry up," she shouted, "you're going to be late!"
I peeked out of my window again, and this time I noticed Felix's little white Volvo sitting idling beside the pavement. I caught sight of Felix sitting in the passenger seat, his curly blond hair covering his glasses - his tie green scrunched up to his neck. Sometimes I wondered if he had trouble breathing.
I got dressed quickly - I didn't want to make Felix late for school. I wouldn't care if I was late - I hated school - but Felix would care if he was. Felix cared too much about his classes - if you ask me - even though he wasn't particularly good at them. I jogged into the blue tiled bathroom and glanced at the round mirror. A boy glanced back at me. His jet black hair was messy and tufts of it were sticking up in different angles - covering his eyes in some places. His emerald eyes had a faint sparkle to them that seemed to shine through the little gaps in his hair.
My hair was a mess. It would have to do for today - Felix was waiting.
Missing a few stairs at a time, I ran downstairs and grabbed my jacket and school bag.
"Breakfast is important," she started. "you can go when you-"
"I'm fine, mum," I interrupted her, and ran outside to Felix's car before she could argue with me any further.
Felix picked me up for school with his dad and his sister everyday - always too early. He's like me - an outsider here. I moved up here from Bolton with my mum when I was only six - and Felix moved here only one year ago. He was born and bred in France, like his sister, Camille.
Felix wanted to study Law after he leaved school - he thought it would be really interesting. I didn't care what I studied - as long as I got out of high school.
He was my only real friend here. I mean, the other guys in my class were okay, but they weren't as good of friends as Felix was, or as my old friend, Jimmy.
It was only about three months since Jimmy died. I remembered that day clearly. It was about a week after our biology exams - which occurred every three months. A lightning storm. That's what they all had said - he was struck by lightning. Although, it seemed odd"
Jimmy was never good at any classes in school, especially biology. The thought of an up and coming biology exam made me shudder.
"What's wrong, Olly?" Felix asked, peering at me through his spectacles - always clear and well polished.
"We"re due a biology exam soon," I muttered.
Felix frowned. Biology was by far his worst subject. Felix was also easily scared by our biology teacher"
So was everyone. Well, apart from me, of course.
"Ah." Felix sighed. "Yeah.."
The ring of the bell broke my train of thoughts as Felix's car came to a gentle stop outside of the school gates.
Groups of kids stood waiting for their friends, and some rushed to their classes. The school yard was busy and filled with the chatter of trivial conversations and shouting and cars arriving.
My first two classes were History and French. I was generally good at every subject, but they still all bored me. I would rather be at home sleeping or watching TV.
Well, Only two years left, I thought.
Then, I would be out of High school, and away to get on with my life.
I couldn't wait.
French stretched out like the horizon - unwilling to end, and time slowly and reluctantly passed by until, finally, it was morning interval.
"So," Felix asked, polishing his classes with his shirt, "What makes you think we're due another biology exam?"
If you didn't know Felix, you probably wouldn't be able to tell he wasn't British. There was only a slight trace of a French accent in his voice.
We were standing in the biology corridor - a stretch of grey, tiled walls, only interrupted by a few dull blue doors and skinny windows that were our classrooms - waiting for class to begin.
"Well, it was three months ago since we had one."
"I suppose it's time then." Felix sighed. "I'm failing this time," he continued, "no amount of studying is going to help me."
"You'll be fine, I'm sure."
Felix"s brow creased - he wasn't a very confident person.
He was probably so bad at biology because he couldn't listen properly. It was strange, he was very intimidated by Mr.Riley - even the mention of his name made him shudder - that I doubt he could be able to pay proper attention to him. But, Mr Riley was, after all, one creepy guy.
Biology. I took a seat next to the sweating Felix and fished my books out of my bag.
Mr.Riley was here already; standing at the front of the classroom, as if he had been waiting here all night for us.
"Everybody sit down," Riley hissed, "Hurry up! Take a seat, c'mon!"
Felix shuffled around in his seat, making a conscious effort to avoid eye contact with Riley. No wonder - Mr Riley was a tall man, and he seemed to tower over us all. His head was mostly bald and was dry like an old man"s. There were only a few strands of grey hair remaining on his head. His nostrils were stuffed full with curls upon curls of dry, grey hair. His cheeks were as red as beetroots, and his wiry, blue veins were prominent under the surface of his face. Riley was ancient. He had been teaching biology for thirty years! How old was he? Fifty? Sixty? Older? However, he looked ageless. It was impossible to imagine him as a young man.
His eyes were the only interesting thing about him - they were a very strange shade of sparkling violet, and they shifted around, as if he were being watched.
Mr Riley wondered over to our table - attracted to Felix's fear like a predator attracted to it's prey.
"What's wrong, Felix, Boy?" Riley mocked, a grin spreading wide across his nightmarish skin.
"N-n-nothing, Sir." Felix gulped, a small bead of sweat trickling down his forehead.
Mr.Riley shot Felix a dirty look and started to slowly pace up and down the classroom.
"It is my duty to inform you"" Riley murmured, ""that you will be sitting an exam in three days from now."
"As you know," Riley began, "I take great pride in my class performance. I am, as you all know, a very honourable teacher.."
Riley's voice faded and his mysterious violet eyes shifted from left to right, scanning the classroom.
"Anyone who.. Let's say - disappoints" me with their results, will be" punished... effectively," Riley grinned darkly, satisfied with his words, and shot another quick glance at Felix.
The whole class seemed to gulp, or maybe it was just Felix. Riley was notorious for his hellish tests. Some of the questions were almost impossible - he enjoyed watching his pupils struggle.
Three months ago, Riley always used to pick on Jimmy - the shy little redheaded boy. Jimmy had feared him just as much as Felix feared him. Jimmy had failed his biology exams, and Mr.Riley was not pleased. A week later, Jimmy died. I still remember Riley's odd reaction when everyone at school was discussing it - It was like he was responsible for his death.
For the rest of the day, I couldn't stop myself thinking about Riley" and his hatred towards Jimmy and Felix, and the similar reasons for his hatred. His reaction to Jimmy"s death, too. I tried to push the thoughts out of my head, but they were too heavy; they kept sliding back into my mind, taking up all the space.
Two days later. Walking home with Felix - he's coming to study with me - the biology test is tomorrow.
"Felix"" I started.
"Well" don't you think that Mr. Riley.." The rest of my words were cut off as I hesitated. How would I explain my fears?
"Mr.Riley"W-w-what about him, Olly?" Felix stuttered.
"I know it sounds stupid," I began, and paused again, half hoping he would want to drop the subject.
"Go on, Olly."
"What do you think Mr.Riley's punishment is?" I asked.
"What-" Felix started.
"I mean - his punishment for failing the test." I muttered, trying to persuade myself I was being stupid.
"Oh.. That." Felix looked down at his shoes - shiny and polished.
"I don't know" Olly." He answered. "..but" it can't be anything too bad, right?"
"Yeah. Detention or something, right?" I muttered.
"Yes" something like that." Felix confirmed, although, he sounded doubtful.
Surely it couldn't be much worse than detention, or extra homework.
The day of the biology exam - Lunch time. It was raining very heavily outside - the sky was one huge blanket of grey. Although me and Felix were inside the canteen, I could hear the raindrops hammering against the glass the roof, like bullets spraying against metal. It was quiet in the canteen. Everybody was preparing for the exam. Some were running on nervous energy, fidgeting with their glasses, scanning their books for last minute information, wiping sweat from their forehead, staring at the clock, biting their nails, swinging on their chairs" whilst others were relaxed - sitting in groups, quizzing each other on biology questions, munching their lunch normally, laughing and joking.
Felix was sitting perched on the edge of his seat, sweating - and I mean, sweating. I could see the river of sweat, running down his face in numerous directions - beads resting on his glasses. His blue eyes seemed to have shrunk and intensified, darting around the canteen, as if he were being hunted by someone. Someone like Mr.Riley.
The bring of the bell echoed in the canteen, and I turned to face Felix.
"Ready?" I asked.
"Hold on," Felix replied, his head suddenly buried in his bag.
He emerged with his biology book between his two shaking hands and placed it upon the table. It was titled - How to conquer biology.
Well - it obviously hadn't helped Felix that much, as he was now flicking through the pages anxiously, trying to cram as much information into his head as possible.
"C'mon Felix, we can't be late for Riley-" I began.
"Quiet!" He snapped, chewing his lower lip in concentration as he tried to block me out.
He continued flicking through the book, scanning every page for details.
Meanwhile, all the other pupils had cleared from the canteen, leaving their mess behind them - empty paper bags, half filled cups of soup, pieces of bread and remnants of chocolate muffins - as the cleaners ushered around, cleaning the mess - eager to finish and get home.
"I'm going," I stood up. "see you in biology."
He didn't look away from his book as he continued flicking pages, forcing the information into his head.
I reached for the door of the biology classroom and opened it.
I leapt back.
Mr.Riley was standing in front of me, and it was obvious he had been waiting.
"In," Riley hissed.
I didn't hesitate, and I went to take my seat. The classroom was quiet - even though the test hadn't begun. It was clear that Riley and the whole class were waiting for Felix now.
About a minute later, the door slowly creaked open and a head gingerly peeked through. Felix.
"Late!" Riley barked, the veins in his head bulging.
Felix walked into the room, sweating more than ever, fidgeting with his glasses.
"Explain"" Riley hissed, his eyes fixed on Felix.
"Just sit down, Felix." Riley spat.
Felix took a seat next to me.
He looked terrible.
"Felix.. C'mon, it's just a-"
"Quiet!" Riley barked, throwing me a dirty look.
Whatever, I thought.
Riley scanned the room with disgust.
"Start the test!" He commanded.
Half an hour into the exam. Pens scribbled quickly over paper, and the greasy smell of sweat climbed up my nostrils. I held my breath. Felix was struggling. Riley's violet eyes scanned the room and rested on Felix. A sly smile formed on his face. I could hear Felix whispering to himself - racking his brains, searching for any tiny amount of knowledge he could find.
For me, the test was a breeze. I scribbled the answers down quickly, eager to finish. I knew if I finished first, it would disappoint Riley. He took great pleasure in watching his pupils struggle.
The exam had finished, and everybody was dismissed. I was standing outside the classroom, waiting for Felix to emerge. I noticed Riley's icy glare and sly smile fixed on the back of Felix's head as Felix walked out from the classroom.
That was when things changed - for the worse.
One week after the biology test. Lunch time. The sky was almost black - the sun completely hidden" as if it had simply been" removed.
At least there was no rain... Yet. I thought.
"Ok, I'll meet you outside," Felix stared out of the canteen windows at the gloomy scenery. "and we can" walk home."
He shivered. Felix hated walking home when it was almost completely dark. But it wasn't just that - Felix looked worried. I couldn't exactly place my finger on what it was, and I guessed it just must have been something trivial.
My last class of the day was English. We weren't doing anything fun. As usual, we were reading another boring novel - a crime novel this time - that involved the strange disappearance of two young teenagers.
The piercing sound of the bell filled the classroom - finally. It was the end of the day, and it was Friday. Me and Felix were going swimming on Sunday - so that gave me something to look forward to. I gathered my books and left the classroom. Felix would be waiting outside. I walked along the hallway which was extremely busy with hordes of pupils rushing out to get home, even though the rain had inevitably started. I took a look out of the long horizontal window that stretched the length of the English corridor. The sky was even darker than before, and pupils were taking shelter under the giant elm trees that lined the grey grass beside the main road.
On a summer day, the old elm trees were usually full of life - they were a brilliant green, filled with tiny birds chirping and fluttering around.
The elm trees were a stone grey, and I only saw two birds.
The birds weren't alive, though.
They were dead.
One fell out of the tree, and the other one fell too, shortly afterwards.
I was waiting under the tree now, and Felix hadn't emerged from the school yet.
That was odd.
Felix was usually almost as quick as I was to get out of school for the weekend - but today, all the pupils had already left the school grounds. I waited another five minutes for Felix before I made my way back into the school. The rain was still heavy, and it was pounding off my rain jacket from all directions, completely saturating me. I strolled along the corridors, peeking in every classroom to see if Felix had perhaps been kept behind for detention.
Felix never got detention - he was always behaving well in his classes.
It was not until I approached Mr.Riley's classroom that I heard that strange noise. It was a ripping sound - like paper. Nobody had got their biology results back yet, but could it be possible that Felix was getting his now? Where else could he be? I pondered over that thought. Felix was nowhere else to be seen, so I may as well try in here.
I didn't knock - Riley didn't deserve any respect from me.
Perhaps I should have knocked - and then I would have known what I was getting myself into.
Hindsight is a great thing"
I edged closer to the door and placed my hand against the door knob. It was a dull, dusty grey colour, and I couldn't see my reflection on it.
I twisted the knob around"
"and opened the door.
I shouldn't have come here.
Maybe if I had just turned and ran, it would have been okay. Maybe I could have escaped.
A nauseating stench ripped through my nostrils, and I almost puked.
Mr.Riley was sitting on the floor cross-legged, his back to me. His head was bent downwards, and he was chewing on something. I heard that strange ripping sound again.
Mr.Riley turned around, and that was when I saw it. There were little bits of red flesh, and what looked like somebody's brains, stuck in between the gaps in his teeth.
Felix's frail body was sprawled and twisted over the ground, his head hanging from his neck. A river of dark blood streamed from his mouth, all the way down his torn body. There were distinct finger marks around what was left of his throat, and a pool of his guts lay resting on the floor beside his stomach.
"There's no room for" failures in my class," Riley chuckled.
All my instincts screamed at me to run, but I was frozen in place like an ice sculpture.
He brandished a long, slim knife in his withered hand, half covered in blood, and smiled darkly.
I caught a glimpse of my reflection on the polished metal of the knife.
My emerald eyes widened in horror.
And that was the last thing I ever saw.