"The Dingwalley School Mystery" by D Scottish Lord, October 2011
Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of a fiction. Any resemblance to real characters is of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.
AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one is should attempt to act in the same manner as described.
Summary: One night Ted had an experience worth a thousand words. Or thousands of something else?
The Dingwalley School Mystery
Ted Williams was the last one to leave the classroom that night when he heard some kind of moaning coming from the end of the hall. Since it was already dark outside and the school was about to close for the night, some lights were already out. He was searching for the janitor with his fearful eyes, but failed to find him anywhere.
- Hello?, Ted called towards the dark corridor. There was no answer.
As he was walking towards the exit, he heard the moaning once again. It was a faint, almost a whisper that echoed through the empty hallway. For a moment he thought one of his schoolmates was hurt, so he turned around, looking for the cleaning lady or some teacher. There wasn't a usual bucket of water or a broomstick. In fact, there were no signs of any human beings. He felt prickling at the back of his neck.
- Hello? Anybody there?, he was staring at the dark end of the corridor, expecting a monster to come out of it at any time. His heart beating faster, Ted stepped closer towards the source of the sound. This time there was nothing but some sounds of neon lights that needed to be replaced.
Then, all of a sudden he froze. In the midst of the darkness in front of him he could discern a shadow of what could be a man. His body already shivering, adrenaline making him incapable of producing a sound, he started to panic within himself.
- It's all right boy ..., a sound of an elderly man came from the darkened corner.
- Who ... who are you?, Ted managed to struggle out through his tight throat, expecting either the janitor or the cleaning lady to come to his rescue.
- Come closer and I'll tell you ..., man's voice offered. It wasn't seductive or a threatening tone of the voice so Ted stepped closer, now almost seeing the face of that elderly man. He had some kind of a parka suit on him and beard on his face.
- Why don't you come out to the light so that I can see you?, Ted instantly remembered how his mother thought him to behave in such situations. To his surprise, man stepped closer, revealing a worn out face with small, beady eyes that were sparkling with some unusual, almost alien light. Ted was mesmerized by them, seeing shining stars where the eyes should have been. And the voice of the old man became like a flow of the water, almost echoing.
- My name is John Stewart.
- John Stewart?, Ted repeated, turning quickly behind to see if it was some kind of a trap. There wasn't anyone behind him and, apart from the hoarse breathing of the old man, he could hear no other sounds. Almost as if the time itself froze. Who ... are you?
- I used to live here once, came the reply.
- But ..., Ted scratched himself behind the ear, examining old man's pants that looked as if soiled from some gardening. But I thought this school was some fifty or more years old?
- Oh ..., old man produced some croaking laughter and Ted's hair went straight up for it sounded so morbid and inhuman. I lived here some hundred and eighty years BEFORE the school was even built! Ted gulped in disbelief, old man's eyes shining as if there was some kind of a flame within them.
- But ... but ..., Ted started to retreat, feeling some cold sweat pouring down his spine, ... that would make you more than two hundred years old?
- Well ..., old man laughed ominously again, ... you COULD say that ...
- That's ... that's impossible! For a moment Ted did not know whether to laugh or to scream in terror. Both reactions would fit the silliness of the old man's sentence.
- Listen ..., old man suddenly started to fade away and Ted's eyes widened even more. I have a secret to tell you ...
When he came home that night, his mother was worried for him being so late and didn't want to listen to his "ghost story". Ted simply shrugged with his shoulders and, after praying feverishly to God before closing his eyes for the good night's rest, he promised to himself that tomorrow he is going to check whether the old man was telling truth.
After he waited for the classes to be over, he an his best friend Michael turned left and right, then, with their school bags ready on their shoulders, they ran down the stairs towards the basement. They missed the janitor for a breath and thanked God when he passed them, whistling, listening to some music on the headphones. They hid in the shade of a door.
- Boy that was close, Ted looked once more to his left then waved towards Michael.
- Ted ... listen ..., Michael was sweating, running after Ted. I don't think this is such a good idea ...
- Don't be a sissy!, Ted looked left and right again, then withdrew some kind of the improvised tool and started to break the chain on the handles of some old, wooden doors.
- Look ..., Michael was obviously scared, ... I ... I am leaving, OK?
- Wait! Ted stopped and listened to the sounds. Apart from the distant whistling of the janitor and the low humming of the power generator, there were no other sounds. If you go now I'll never tell you whether I found the magic object or not ...
- Ahmmm ..., Michael was shifting his weight from one foot to the other. All right! He folded his arms. I am staying. He turned quickly behind him, then back. But if you tell ANYONE that I helped you ... At that moment the chain broke free and the old door creaked. Both of them stepped instantly back, expecting a monster to come out form the darkness.
After switching on their flashlights, they carefully stepped in, timid and stale air grasping them with some invisible hand.
- Hey ..., Michael coughed. I can't breathe in here!
- Be patient!, Ted swerved his light in all directions, examining some cobwebs that were spread all over the used shelves and furniture. John said it should be in the room to the left.
- John?, Michael gulped staring at the broken scelleton that was probably once used in the biology classes. Who is John?
- That old man ..., Ted was preoccupied with finding his way to the left room. He opened the door of another room. Here we are!
They saw piles of books on both sides with some carelessly tossed newspapers in the middle of the room.
After removing the newspapers and coughing due to the dust, they finally started to dig through the concrete, making plenty of loud noise, listening every three minutes for some external noise. There was none.
- The janitor is probably listening to his music ..., Ted suggested, sweating, removing pieces of the worn out concrete.
- Hey!, Michael widened his eyes when they saw something metallic appearing underneath the hole.
- C'mon ... help me out with this!, Ted was excited even more. Suddenly they heard a female voice.
- Hello? Anyone in here? They immediately switched off their lights and stopped breathing, listening. Probably some punks trying to make themselves brave ..., teacher whispered to herself, trying to overcome the scary darkness around her. Hello? She listened for a while, then simply closed the door, wrapping chains around the door lock.
- Are we locked in now?, Michael's heart started to pound faster.
- No ..., Ted was tense, listening to any additional sounds. I don't think she had any locker on her.
- What if she comes back and locks the door? Michael almost left the room, frightened and Ted pulled him back.
- Listen! What the difference does it make? We have all the tools and can break those old wooden doors in no time!
- Well ..., Michael listened some more to the possible sounds from the corridor. I guess you are right.
After some twenty minutes of additional digging, all sweaty, they finally managed to bring a small chest out of the ground.
- Whoof! Michael wiped his forehead, coughing. That's worth a dinner! he sat down, exhausted. How did you know it was here?
- I've told you ..., Ted coughed in continuity. The old man TOLD me!
- All right ... Michael's eyes were gleaming now. Let's open it then!
Some twenty years later, Ted and Michael were sitting on the veranda of a large house, sipping some drinks while their wives were serving them.
- Ha, ha, ha, ha!, Ted laughed suddenly, watching some golfers passing by on the road in the vicinity. Green grass was shining with every ray of the sun that was sporadically showing itself from the clouds above.
- What?, Michael stared casually at some seagulls flying low on the horizon.
- I remember your face when I threatened you that I was going to report you to the head master if you did not keep our secret till death.
- Well ..., Michael kissed his wife after she sat in his lap. At that time it sounded frightening.
- To be honest ..., he sipped more of the refreshing drink then allowed his wife to sit in his lap, ... I expected to find some real treasure in that chest.
- Ha, ha, ha, ha! Michael almost spilled his drink. You are still a romantic fool, Ted! They listened to some soft music coming from within the mansion, servants cleaning the carpets inside.
- I am still puzzled though ..., Ted placed his drink on the side table, then readjusted his wife into a more comfortable position, his legs hurting under her weight. Why would someone pay so much money for some fake pirate map?
- Ah!, Michael waved with his hand, then placed his empty glass on his side table. There will be naive people ALWAYS! And ... he kissed his wife gently, ... why should we care? He pointed with his hand around. Look around you! We both have our dream homes, pretty wives ..., he pinched softly his wife and she giggled, ... University degrees ... what else can a mortal man hope for?
- I wonder ..., Ted scratched his beard, ... what if that piece of goat skin we found within that chest was ... genuine?
- Even if it was ..., Michael cleared his throat, ... we would never find a hazardous investor to sponsor our secret digging mission.
- You are probably right ..., Ted scratched his beard again, staring at some ships on the horizon.
Some white clouds were slowly moving across the sky. Sheep and other farm animals made a variety of sounds in the vicinity. Soft breeze reminded them that the summer will eventually pass. Dog barked on the road, welcoming two boys returning from the fishing.