A Model Student

Reads: 62  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 3

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Cover image: pixabay.com.

 

 

 

A Model Student

I used to like my job. I always felt a kind of sense of expectation whenever I got out of my car, walked across campus and entered the university. Even when it was cold and wet outside, once in those corridors I really began to feel alive.

I still had days when I marveled at how lucky I had been to be offered the position. Not only could I pursue my passion for art but I was paid to do it too. I’m not the greatest artist, but I’ve made it my life’s goal to find out as much as I could about artists, mediums and techniques. If my lectures managed to instill the same level of love in just one of my students then I would be happy.

And then everything changed.

As soon as I walked into the classroom I could feel something... different. It took me a couple of minutes to locate the source of my discomfort. I did a quick scan of the students, all familiar apart from one.

He sat right at the back of the room, but his gaze was so piercing he could have been directly in front of me. With his hood pulled low over his face I could not make out his features, only his eyes and a finger held in front of his lips, silencing me from asking his name.

I tried to carry on as usual. The students had all been told to sketch or paint a picture of something fantastical. I always found this to be an assignment that would bring out either the best or the worst from each budding artist.

I could feel his eyes boring into me as I made my way from student to student. There were dark scenes, pretty scenes, dragons, aliens and fae. And then there was his picture.

I tried to hide my shock as I looked at the image before me. A woman sprawled on the ground with a wound to her neck. I’d seen as bad, or even worse before, but what sent my mind reeling was that the woman, clearly dead, looked just like me. I had made comments to the other students, but my voice seemed to be stuck in my throat. His eyes held mine until I broke his gaze, gave a nod and moved on.

My hands were shaking so I clasped them together, then pushed them into my pockets. I made my way to the front of the class and cleared my throat.

Well done, all of you. There are some excellent pieces of work here.” I felt the urge to look right at him but fought against it. “Your assignment for today is to select what you believe are your four best works of art. The exhibition is just a week away, remember.”

I had let the class go early, but he stayed seated while the other students filed out into the hall. I looked through the papers on my desk, searching for a clue to his identity, but I could find nothing that said that a new student had been enrolled. Was he an imposter? Maybe he wasn’t a student at the university at all?

What’s your...?” I began, before I realized that I was talking to an empty room.

When I had finished lectures for the day I went to the main office. “Who’s the new student?” I asked. “I couldn’t find any record and before I had a chance to ask him, he’d gone.”

The secretary hit a few keys on the computer before she answered. “No new students for your class, Jayne. Hang on just a second.” She tapped away at the keyboard again. “No, there’s no new students enrolled in the last month. Do you want me to call security?”

Did I want security questioning me? What could I tell them when I hadn’t even got a good look at his face?

No... don’t bother. It will just have been one of the students playing a prank or something.”

And that night I convinced myself that was all that it had been, a feeling that was further reinforced when he was not in class the following day.

I was about to head home when I saw him, leaning against a wall by the doors. I would have to walk by him if I was going to get to my car. I could feel his stare, intense in its focus on me. Should I confront him? Before I came to a decision he pushed through the doors and disappeared.

That set the tone for the rest of the week. He did not attend any lectures or any of the practical classes, but I kept catching glimpses of him, always staring at me. I was twenty-eight years old, for goodness sake. Old enough not to let a student stalker bother me.

Every time I decided to turn the tables on him, confront him in front of some of my fellow lecturers, he’d disappear, leaving me feeling shaken. If it had not been for the exhibition coming up I would have been tempted to call in sick; I couldn’t let the students down. Several had made sales to galleries on previous years.

He wasn’t there. It’s hard to express how relieved his disappearance made me feel without making myself sound unhinged, but I even found myself humming softly a couple of times as I worked with the students to get our exhibition ready. We left together in an almost party mood. Expectations were definitely running high, for the standards of work this year were up there with the best of them.

Plenty of people turned up that night. There was a buzz of conversation that spoke of success, until I saw it. That picture, the one he had brought, seemed to be in pride of place. Who had put it there? Several of the students looked at the picture and, from the glances they then aimed at me, I could tell that they had noticed the resemblance too.

The chatter began to weave around. Instead of talking to me of success, it spoke of some kind of hidden threat. Where was he? I looked around at all the people looking for any similarities, but it was hopeless. I turned my back on the painting, knowing that it would attract even more attention to it if I removed it, and I tried to ignore the buzzing in my head, the thumping in my veins. I forced my face into a smile, but to me it felt more like a grimace. The night could not end fast enough for me, because it would be frowned on if I left before the end.

Everyone had gone by the time I made my way out towards the car park. Everyone, that is, except Fred who was waiting to lock up. There was nothing to worry about. I could call out if there was any problem. Besides, the night was light because the moon was large and full. Pulling my shoulders back I strode towards my car.

A dog howled in the distance and I felt icy prickles of fear run down my spine. Just a dog, I told myself, listening for the barks that would surely follow. It remained silent apart from the sound of my footsteps and the hammering of my heart.

When he stepped out, putting himself squarely between myself and the car my first impulse was to turn and run. His eyes bored into my head and he held me frozen in place. A cloud obscured some of the moonlight, but when it cleared I gasped in horror.

The face that stared at me did not belong to a human. Eyes that burned and froze simultaneously stared out from a distorted face that looked to be covered with some kind of coarse fur. The thing licked its lips, and I had a view of its teeth. They were savage, sharp, more than capable of ripping into my neck.

I needed to break his hold on me and run. I could feel the scream bubbling up inside me but before I could utter it, summon help, I lost my chance. The creature barely moved a muscle as it leaped directly at me.

 

 

 

 


Submitted: December 07, 2020

© Copyright 2021 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Mike S.

Spooky-good tale, Hull

Mon, December 7th, 2020 8:36pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Mike. Glad you enjoyed it.

Mon, December 7th, 2020 1:57pm

Joe Stuart

Aargh! A good spooky story, Hully. I put an icomment where part of a sentence is missing, but I could deduce what it would have said.

Mon, December 7th, 2020 10:39pm

Author
Reply

Thanks so much for that, Joe. I've fixed the missing text now.

Sun, December 13th, 2020 10:07am

Mark A George

Even though I didn't know why this creature was in her class or what his motivation was for targeting her, it was still gripping in the unknown as well as the known. You should do a flash fiction collection for publication, Hulla. Maybe you've already done one.

Wed, December 9th, 2020 2:40am

Author
Reply

Thanks, Mark. I'm toying with the idea of writing a series of picture prompted pieces for those who share their work for free on Pixabay and Unsplash deserve a lot more credit than they often get.
I'll keep that idea of yours in mind, Mark.

Sun, December 13th, 2020 10:07am