A Slower Speed of Light

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

I'm sorry I've been away so long!
So, not too long ago I had a nightmare that really stuck with me, so I turned it into a short story. enjoy.

The winter air is cool and crisp, and each breath from the teenagers at the street corner waiting for the bus leaves a little white puff in the air. The moon is just starting it’s graceful decent into the dark blue horizon and the stars- some dead, some still burning in the vicious way they do- twinkle in the sky like little bits of glitter left over from a messy two year old doing arts and crafts.

The wet and dirty concrete crunches under Annabelle’s feet as she shifts from foot to foot to stay warm, her small jacket no match for the heavy water in the air. Her big blue eyes sparkle with a sort of sleepy daze in the early morning moonlight. Her hands are tucked deep inter her pockets and her ear buds are blasting out heavy bass to drown out the incessant chatter of the others.

The big yellow bus pulls up to the curb, its brakes giving an agonizing screeches it inches to a halt. The door open with a rush of air and each child files into the metal beast like prisoners to their meals. They take their seats in the frigid grey leather seats. Some continue to speak, others fall asleep. Annabelle just lays her backpack at her feet, lays her head against the window, and tries to clear her mind.

School has been difficult since Dante left. Well, not left, He graduated and moved out of state, leaving Annabelle alone and more depressed than ever. But she tries not to think about that too much. He said, before he left, that he still loves her, so she focuses on that. Maybe she still has a chance.

Caught up in her thoughts Annabelle doesn’t even realize that the big yellow monster has arrived at its destination. She stands and files off the bus into the big brick and glass building with the rest of the robots, programmed by society to follow the crowd.

The warm rush of air from the automatic doors makes Annabelle lethargic. She can feel the buzz of the other 3500 teenagers crammed into the building, each of them with their own annoying tendencies. Each with their own lives and stories.

She hates every single one of them.

She hates the football players that laugh at her for having a small chest. She hates the blondes that snicker because they think she’s a failure. She hates the teachers for never giving a damn about her. And she especially hates her counselor. The bitch that ruined everything in her life when she called Child Protective Services on her mom just because she saw a few cuts.

She doesn’t know her. She doesn’t know her life. She needs to fuck off.

“Psshhh” Annabelle lets out an audibly annoyed breath as she drops her bag to the floor and slides down the cool smooth wall to sit on the hideously multicoloured carpet. It’s the “school” carpet. That ugly green-ish-grey with a few specks of other colours here and there.

Annabelle hates that too. She hates everything about school. She misses Dante. She wants him to come back to her. For her. But he moved back to his home state and he’s happy. So happy, I fact, that he never texts her anymore. They used to talk every day, but now it’s like they were never even in love.

“I hate him.” She mutters and puts her headphones on, blasting The Thespian by Alesana.

Minutes go by and she Annabelle slowly slips into a depressive trance. Her emotions carry her to a purgatory between wakefulness and sleep. It’s a dark place. Not black. Not darkness. Just dark. All of her worries and fears are materialized in this place. And she’s stuck there until someone comes along and taps her shoulder.

“Annabelle.” A soft voice is calling her name. She opens her eyes and is mete by the face of her consoler. She gets the urge to punch her.

“What?” she spits as viciously as her mouth will allow.

The grey haired woman shakes her head “Anna someone is here to pick you up.”

She snorts and rolls her eyes, putting her headphones back on “One, don’t call me that, and two, piss off.”

The old woman lets out a breath and pulls on Annabelle’s hand. She resists, but her body is so deprived of food and sleep she can’t seem to pull away. She’s lead into a small white car and given some water. It tastes of metal, and makes her sleepy.

When she wakes up she’s in a room. One small bedside table with a touch activated lamp. Stark white walls. One small oak wood dresser with a pair of jeans and a white button down and black dress shoes and a black tie. The sheets she’s laying on are blue and scratchy. She knows the feeling of these blankets all too well. They’re hospital blankets.

Annabelle sits up and looks at the door. There’s a small window with iron bars on it, and no door knob on the inside. She walks to the window and looks around. It looks like a college common area. There’s a TV, a couple of powder blue couches, a few shelves with books, and a small snack area. Above the bookshelves “AppleWood Academy” is painted in big black letters.

“Academy”? As in, boarding school?

She sits back on the bed and looks down at her hands, thinking. She then notices a small hospital band. It doesn’t look like any of the others she’s had, though. She lifts her hand close to her face to read the small print.

Annabelle Forge * Student ID 55607 * East Hall * A/D Ward

Student ID? So this IS a boarding school. But what’s up with the “ward” thing? Is this an asylum school? A poor house? What the fuck?

As Annabelle ponders her situation the door opens and a woman in a navy blue power suit walks in. Her chocolate coloured hair is pulled back into a tight bun and she’s holding a small pouch with a lightning bolt on it. As Annabelle looks up at her there is no inviting smile, just a cold stare.

“Annabelle Marie Forge.” She asks. But it’s more of a statement.

“Yeah.” She says, raising one eyebrow at Ms. HardAss.

“My name is Claudia Dunborrow and I am the warden for this Hall. All concerns and questions are to go through me. There is a rule book in your night stand. Please read it. Class starts tomorrow. You are here for your own safety and growth, each and every one of us is here to help you.” And with that she walks out, and the bedroom door closes with a click of a heavy lock.

Once the doors lock Annabelle looks over and leans across the bed, reaching for the small booklet on the Oakwood bedside table.

Welcome to AppleWood Academy.

Rule No.1 - no talking in class

Rule No. 2 - The common area is for food and recreation, not rough housing

Rule No. 3 – physically touching another student in any way will end in disciplinary action

Rule No. 4 – failure to comply with rules 1 – 3 a total of five times will end in major discipline

Annabelle sighs and sets the booklet on the bed next to her and stands, biting her lip then walking over the clothes on the small dresser. It’s a pair of medium coloured jeans that looked brand new and too clean, a stark white button down that looked thick and stiff, a black leather belt, a black silk tie, and a pair of black suede dress shoes. Over all, it was a hideous outfit. She was going to look like a Mormon. Ack!

Unfortunately, it was all she had, so Annabelle gets dressed and looks at herself in the reflection in the small window since her room doesn’t have a mirror. She hates how the outfit looks, but she’s not about to make Ms. HardAss come back in and stare at her again.

With a sigh she changes back into her black sweat pants, grey tank top, and baggy old hoodie. She lies in the stiff musty bed and cuddles into herself, trying to figure out why she’s here. What this place is, and why no one has told her anything yet.

Annabelle starts to cry softly, causing her dark eyeliner to run down her cheeks. She sniffles and wipes her skin with her hoodie sleeves and buries her face in the useless white pillow. It smells like a motel and makes her cry harder. Eventually she cries herself to sleep, and dreams of horrible things.

She wakes up to a loud buzzing noise, then a small ding-ding-ding-ding that almost sounds musical, then there’s a woman’s voice filling the small room.

“Good morning students! Its 7:45 and time for class. Everyone get dressed and head to your areas.”

Groggy and sad Annabelle pulls herself out of bed and dresses in the outfit she’s been given and stands by her bedroom door for a few minutes before remembering she doesn’t have a way to open the door from the inside. She looks around and blinks. How the fuck is she supposed to get to class?

Then, in the middle of her thought the door swings open, and she’s looking at a sea of boys and girls all dressed like she is. They’re all headed the same way, so she follows.

No one looks at her, no one touches her. Everything is silent other than the soft sound of soft soled shoes on tile. The thought of what she’s learned about the holocaust flashes in Annabelle’s mind for a terrifying second, making her heart race. Then she remembers she’s in a school- a weird school, but a school all the same- and nothing bad would happen at school.

Every student from her Hall piles into a large room. There are just enough desks for everyone, and everyone is still silent. A man in a navy blue coat and khaki pants walks by each person and gives them all a pill. (From Annabelle's late night final study sessions she can tell the pill is Vivance.) Each student takes in and immediately takes out a text book and begins reading.

Annabelle rolls the pill around in her hand, looks up at the man, and sets the pill on her desk. She grabs the textbook from under her desk and finds a pen and a spiral in her desk. She opens the textbook then the spiral and lays the notebook over the school book and begins to doodle.

The man- whom she assumes to be the teacher- walks over and brushes the hair off the back of her neck. Before she can yell at him for being a freak she’s stunned by a low voltage electrical shock. Her fingers go numb and her vision goes blurry.

“Pill, then work.” He says, then rips the doodled on paper from the spiral and crumples it in his hands.

Annabelle takes a deep breath then looks up and stares at him in awe.

“What the hell what that?” she spits in his direction, rubbing the rack of her neck with one hand.

The man looks down at her and smiles with his lips, but not his eyes “Incentive.”

She snorts and rolls her eyes “More like assault. Does the owner of this shithole know what you’re doing to kids here?”

As she utters her last few vicious words she can feel all eyes on her as the man places one hand on the back of her head and forces her head to the desk then presses something cold on the back of her neck, then a hot searing pain runs down her spine and she goes limp. He then sits her up and places the pill in her mouth and fills her mouth with water.

Against her will she swallows the water and the pills. Within ten minutes the pill takes effect- just the amount of time it takes for all her sensation to come back.

The pill makes her focused and she copies four and a half chapters from the textbook before the lunch bell rings. The weirdest part of the lunch bell is the lack of excitement from the other students. No one runs to the door, no one starts cracking stupid jokes. Everyone just calmly packs up their things and walks out of the room. Not a word is said until each and every teenager has made their way over the threshold.

Annabelle sighs and follows the crowd once again, and there’s a peaceful hum to the common area. A few girls are laughing, there’s a couple guys playing some chess. It’s nice.

Annabelle makes her way to the concession area and grabs an energy drink and sits on the floor and looks around, and as her eyes meet a pair of chocolate brown ones she nearly chokes on her drink.

“D- Dante?” she whispers to herself. He’s staring at her. He’s looking THROUGH her.

As he stands she runs to him and throws her arms around him, forgetting about the ‘no physical touch’ rue. He wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her close to his body, starting to cry quietly into her neck.

“Oh Bell,” he sobs “I tried so hard to come home. I thought I’d never see you again. I tried to visit, but when I tried I was sent here. Oh Bell.” He kisses her and their tears mix together.

Then he’s gone.

Annabelle screams and Dante sinks to the floor. She’s being held by her hair by a large man in a lavender shirt. He has a small metal apparatus in his hand and he’s tying her hair back.

“Let me go, fucker!” Annabelle screeches, writhing and growling as the man calmly forces her stomach-down onto the floor. Dante watches in horror, unable to move.

He knows what’s going to happen.

“I tried… Oh Bell, I tried.” He whispers, his tears rolling down his cheeks and dripping onto the floor.

Annabelle is violently shocked for a third time, this time her mouth starts to taste like blood and she can feel her heart skip a beat, but the adrenalin is too much for the moderate voltage. She lashes out and attacks the man in the lavender shirt, kicking him in the stomach with the heel of her shoe and making him let out a satisfying “oof”.

When she tries to run, Annabelle hesitates, looking back at her crying love. He mouths “Go!” and stays on the floor. His eyes tell her everything. She’s in danger.

When she whirls around to keep running she is immediately caught up in the arms of Ms. HardAss. Her eyes are mean and her jaw is tight and her nails dig into Annabelle’s arms like daggers.

“I knew you’d be an issue here. We’ll fix that.”

She drags her off into a dark corridor with sickly pale green lighting. She’s thrown into a metal chair and restrained then a man in a mask and powder blue hospital gown walks in. He’s holding a long thin nail and a small hammer.

The man in the surgical gown looks at Ms. HardAss and they both nod, then he touches the tip of the nail to Annabelle’s forehead. She screams as loudly as she can, but she can’t move due to the leather strap around the top of her forehead.

After a few soft taps to centre himself the doctor hits the nil with the hammer, driving the metal deep into Annabelle’s head. There’s a searing agony that shoots through her, and she wails in pain. She screams for Dante, but for some reason she can’t remember why this Dante is so important to her.

After what feels like hours the pain subsides into a dull throb, and she realizes the metal is no longer in hear head. All that was there was a long trail of blood running from the hole down her nose and dripping off her chin. She tries to look around but can’t move. She takes a breath and notices neither her throat not lungs hurt.

She wasn’t really screaming.

It had been only seconds.

What the hell happened?

The man in front of her dressed like a doctor and the lady next to him unstrap her and drag her down a depressing hallway. As she’s being dragged she tries to remember her name.

Bella? No. Anny? No, that isn’t right either.

After a measure of time she isn’t sure about they come to a large open space with lots of people in it and the doctor man and the mean looking lady throw her onto the floor, her limp body crumbling to the ground like an old doll.

There’s a boy there with light Mexican skin and beautiful eyes. He just stares at her, and she notices his eyes are red and puffy.

He must be sad.

Or allergic to something.

The beautiful boy lets out a whimper of pain and shakes his head and walks away, leaving her to her own empty thoughts.

Submitted: December 17, 2013

© Copyright 2021 WarmSummerRain. All rights reserved.

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