The children walked around the grounds talking freely of what they were going to do when they grew up and how they hoped to be firemen and policeman and one little girl, Sasha said she wanted to be a doctor, the group laughed and Tommy Rigs said “there ain’t no girl doctors Sash!” Jack Brewster was throwing his ball in the air and catching it and as he went to catch the latest effort his hands missed as he chuckled at the idea of a girl doctor. His ball hit his little finger and diverted down towards the old creek. “Shit” he exclaimed as the ball rolled through a gap in the hedge and down the incline toward the slow running water. Julie Webster a tall willowy looking girl who said very little laughed as he swore and her pale features lit up with crimson delight as the ball ran away down the slope.
“You think it’s funny then Julie” Jack said with a frown. “That’s it lost forever now” he finished.
Tommy looked at the gap and said “c’mon you lot we can get down there and get that ball back”.
They all looked at each other and with a smile they all one after each other crawled through the gap in the hedge, the leaves dry and crispy made a crackling sound as they crawled and the dappled light from the morning sun was dancing across the ground in a way that was almost mesmerising, and Sasha started to sway as she stared up into the tree canopy watching the dazzling light show.
“Sash!” jack said in her ear and he laughed as he ran down the slope because he made her jump.
“You’re dead meat when I catch you Jack!” she said aloud and the others started laughing as she chased him. Jack looked around to see where she was and his left foot just clipped a tree root that was proud of the moist earth only by the barest of measurement. “Arghhhhhhh” he let out a scream as he tumbled down the incline toward the almost stagnant creek bed. The pain in jacks shoulder as he hit the dirt and the impact knocked the wind out of him as he saw a burst of white stars as his eyes closed and he fell. It wasn’t far but it was enough to knock the wind out of all of them as they laughed and laughed at the situation. Sasha was still angry abut she was also out of breath now from the laughter but her face quickly turned to concern as she looked down at Jack.
The noise filled morning air died and went quiet in an instant as they all stared at Jack. He moved and grunted as he lifted himself up on one elbow. They all looked ashen faced at him none of them able to speak. Jack instantly thought he had a broken bone protruding out of his leg or something or he was dead and they were looking at him but not his spirit. Neither was true and as he turned his head to try and see what they were looking at a smell hit him that he could not explain. It was like almost sweet but made his gag reflex kick in, the smell of shit and fly blown meat that was it like his grandpa used to have when he visited and he would breed his own maggots for fishing bait. He rolled and looked directly into the face of death the skin was a putrid grey green and falling from the bone bugs and insects crawled from the now hollow eye sockets, nose and mouth. He screamed a silent scream that was stuck in his mouth and clawed his way back up to where the others were standing silent and he saw Tommy was vomiting over to the side and Sasha and Julie were holding each other sobbing.
The body exploded with escaping gasses and dormant insects as the now tattered clothes moved and undulated like a snake inside the torso because it was disturbed. Jack now followed suit with Tommy and threw up his porridge and toast from breakfast. It was Julie who spoke first.
“Its Mandy, I recognise the night dress she’s wearing”
Tommy looked over and confirmed. “Yep, that’s Mandy ok, but I thought Father James said her uncle had come to claim her and take her home?”
“Well she’s not home Tommy, she’s dead and stuck down here” Jack said wiping the remains of his now empty stomach from his lips.
“What do we do Jack?” Sasha asked quietly.
“How the hell should I know I haven’t ever seen a dead body before? And it’s obvious we can’t say anything coz if Father James said she left then he’s in on it!” he finished taking in a vile breath.
Julie looked around and said “Jacks right if we say anything we all could end up like this” she said pointing toward the decaying body of Mandy Roberts.
Tommy looked around and saw the ball. “Jack gets that before we leave and we better cover our tracks.”
“What for Tommy?” Julie said softly
Tommy moved toward Julie and held her by both shoulders looked into her eyes and said. “Because whoever did this might come back to make sure everything is ok and not disturbed, and if they see anything that could link us to the death we might end up next to her!” Tommy liked Julie and didn’t want to scare her but he had to tell her the truth as he saw it. “Are you ok Jules?” he said to her demanding her eyes look at him not the figure on the ground that was once a vibrant human being.
“No not really but what choice do we have, we can’t tell anyone because the information will always go back to Father James and we could all end up this way.” She said holding his stare.
“Good, we all agree then this stays with us, we never talk about it or discuss it at all, ever!” Tommy said and jack looked over at the group and said “Who is going to believe a bunch of twelve and thirteen year olds anyway?”
“Mandy was seventeen wasn’t she?” Sasha whispered to the group. “What’s that got to do with anything?” Jack said to her.
“Well she was to be eighteen soon and that would mean she could leave of her own accord, maybe she knew something that Father James didn’t want to get out!” she finished.
“Look, let’s just get back before we are missed and never talk about this ever again, ok!” Tommy finished and they all held out their hands and swore never to speak of it again.
Father James sat at his teak desk and unlocked the bottom draw to his large ornate desk. The collar of his habit tight against the skin of his neck as he twisted to retrieve the envelope placed securely at the bottom of some papers, the envelope was full of instant Polaroids of some of the children at the orphanage engaged in all sorts of sexual poses. Some in underpants some naked and some were shots of him doing unthinkable things to the children. The sight of the pictures made his organ strain in the confines of his underpants. He was startled by a knock at the door. “Enter” he said with authority.
Teh oak door swung on old brass hinges inwards and the face of a frightened boy stared back at him. “Ah Jeremy, on time as always, close the door and lock it my son and let’s begin our session, you won’t find love in the lord if we don’t teach you how to love a servant of his name.” The father said as he lifted the dress and exposed his penis to the air. “Now where did I put the holy oil”