Crickenthorpe Academy

One

Chapter One

"Kira? Kira Torrington?"

The girl raised her head, her pale blue eyes widened in alarm. A tall woman smiled down kindly at her, smartly attired in a dress suit, clutching her purse under one arm.

"Are you Kira Torrington?" she asked gently.

The girl nodded.

"I'm Mrs Pritchard," the woman said professional, holding out her hand for the girl to shake, "The deputy headmistress of the school."

The girl didn't take the hand. Instead she stared at her silently, her queer, cheerless eyes despondent to the woman's courtesy and compassion. Mrs Pritchard coughed nervously, forgiving the girl for her rudeness as she retracted her hand. The stories circulating the girl were all true, as proved by the statement Mrs Pritchard had received from her previous school.

Life had treated the girl cruelly, even from birth. Kira Torrington had been named so by her natural parents before they abandoned her at children's home, the day after she had been born. It hadn't been long and it seemed rather fortunate when a newly wed couple unable to have children decided to adopt the baby girl, offering her a safe and comfortable home. Kira had been the only one to survive the fire that had ripped through the house, killing her new parents. Kira had promptly been returned to the children's home where she had spent the first few months of life alone.

It was only a year later, when the girl had been adopted, that another willing couple had chosen her to go home with him. This family had been far from happy though, the husband possessed a fearful temper and would beat the wife brutally, reducing her to drink and drugs just so she could escape from her wretched life. Kira had been neglected through their problems and it was no surprise to anyone had the orphanage when she was handed to one of the matrons by a police officer, three months to the day that she had left. It was later uncovered that the woman in a drug fuelled rage had stabbed the husband to death with a carving knife and then shot herself. Kira had been found a few hours later, splattered with blood, as silent as the girl that now stood before Mrs Pritchard.

But that, sadly, was not the end to Kira's terrible tale. When she was five an elderly man passing through the orphanage on a routine inspection took pity on her. She had only been there three days and nights when the man had suffered a stroke and died in the hospital, forcing Kira back to the orphanage that had been more of a home for her than anywhere else.

And there she had stayed. When possible candidate for her adoption asked why such a pretty child had not been taken they were told of her past, of the death and horror that surrounded her, deterring anyone who had any ideas of taking pity on her. Kira had her own room, there she stayed, secluded, separated from the other children, until the day one of the matrons had been crushed by a wardrobe, one that couldn't have been lifted by a child nor an adult alone, but one that had moved all the same. Some whispered about ghosts. Others were convinced that Kira had something to do with it, and that she was not a normal girl. It was on that day that the letter was written to Mrs Pritchard, detailing the child's strange behaviour and the awful things that seemed to be circulating around her, culminating in death.

Mrs Pritchard had responded immediately, after a quick discussion with he headmistress she had written a letter of acceptance and posted it, details where and when she would pick up the child and take her away. The reply came quickly and it was all arranged. Mrs Pritchard left the school early that morning, taking a train into London and now here she stood, on a smoky platform in at Kingscross station, with the girl that had been the source of so much heartache.

Mrs Pritchard coughed, a little nervous. The girl was a strange thing. She was small and thin, much smaller than other children her age. Her black hair was dry and fought into two untidy pigtails, which she had probably done on her own. The clothes on her back must have been supplied by the orphanage, Mrs Pritchard recognised that kind of ragged grey skirt and creased, dirty blouse, all typical of someone who had been ignored for most of their life. She had only one suitcase and no coat.

"Well, let's be on our way," Mrs Pritchard said brightly, as if she were excited at the prospect of spending time with this child. Most would have dreaded it, more wary, ignorant people might have even feared to touch her, to even be near her, but she was wise enough to know that appearances could be deceiving and all was not what it seemed at first glance.

She stepped forwards to take the suitcase from the girl but Kira jerked away. Mrs Pritchard had read in the letter than she was jumpy around people she was unaccustomed to. That was just something that the girl would have to overcome and she would, where she was going.

"Our train is on platform two," Mrs Pritchard said pleasantly, making allowance for the girl.

She directed the girl to the correct platform and told her to wait while she bought their tickets. As she was hurting away to the ticket booth she couldn't resist glancing over her shoulder. At least the girl could obey orders. She hadn't moved a muscle, though that, itself, was a little unnerving. Mrs Prichard had seen a lot of children suffering from depression, though she had never seen one as unresponsive as this child. Still, at least this child had a reason for being so downhearted. Many of them, in fact.

After purchasing the tickets and a bottle of orange juice for the girl she walked back onto the platform, to where Kira was waiting for her, quietly staring down at the floor. She didn't even raise her head as Mrs Pritchard approached.

"Here you go," she said enthusiastically, holding out the bottle for the girl, unsure that she would take it.

Kira hesitated for a moment, flexed her fingers and then reached and apprehensively for the bottle. Her fingers touched the glass and grasped it but just at that moment a train whistle echoed through the station and the bottle slipped from her hand. It smashed on the floor, orange juice spilling everywhere.

"S-s-sorry," she stuttered quietly, looking mortified at what she had done.

"Its ok," Mrs Pritchard said quickly, "We can get some more on the train."

The girl didn't respond. Mrs Pritchard gazed down wistfully at her, feeling more sympathy than she had eve felt for anyone. This child had problems. She was shy, quiet, untrusting and jumpy, all of those not very adept qualities mingled together to create Kira, a girl cursed by some cruel hand of fate.

The train pulled into the platform and they boarded it, a usual, not particular peculiar sight of a woman and a girl on a train ride, nobody ever guessing the truth of their situation. Mrs Pritchard smiled wryly. At least she had the girl could pass as 'normal' sometimes. Others were not so lucky.

The train rumbled to life chugged out of the station. Their journey home had begun.