The shadows were so thick they seemed to ooze down the walls, a blackening molasses clotting every corner with clutching darkness. The ovals of our flashlights flitted like foxfire across the swamps of rainwater that had seeped through the ceiling’s many infirmities. The derelict school was a rotten mess, that much was obvious, if not the source of its abandonment. It was closed down immediately after the incident, and nary a soul had returned to see to its end-of-life needs. So, the forces of nature had reclaimed it with terrible enthusiasm.
Our goal was to make a name for ourselves as paranormalists, and what better way than to investigate the infamous Under School? So, there we were—former students haunting its halls of stolen children, our digital cameras, various energy meters, and EVP recorders in tow.
After we entered a stairwell, we heard doors slam and lock. We tried to escape through several doors at various landings, but they were all locked. We were trapped. And as a certain inversion of luck would have it, when we reached the bottom of the stairs, we found the basement door ajar—where the incident had occurred.
Despite our terror, we aimed our cameras at the door, more from the need to place a layer of detachment between ourselves and our terrifying surroundings than anything else. Trembling, we opened the door. Our lights shot to the center of the room where all the children had disappeared through a massive hole in the basement floor, a hole that led so far down into the caverns underlying the school that no one had ever reached the bottom. But the hole was supposed to have been bricked up, cordoned off—yet there it was, a fresh pit, broken concrete scattered around its mouth as if something had punched its way up from below.
Children’s desks crowded around the edges, a chalkboard set up a few feet away. The words scrawled on the board read, “Visitors Day.” Suddenly, a deafening school bell rang, and all the locked doors slammed open. We heard waves of tiny feet descending from the halls above. We might have tried to hold the basement door shut if it weren’t for the thing that rose from the pit.
It was a sock puppet, ten feet tall if it was an inch. I never even glanced at the children as they crowded past us and quietly took their seats. The eyes of the “teacher” were massive, round buttons sewn into place. Its mouth seemed filled with jutting black teeth, yet they were really claw-like fingertips inserted within the puppet—fingertips belonging to a ten-foot hand whose wrist was visible between where the gigantic sock abruptly ended and the yawning pit began.
Just before I ran for my life, I heard a sugary sing-song voice trill from deep within the pit, the mouth of the puppet moving as if it were speaking. “My children are ravenous students, gentlemen. I do hope you can satisfy them.”
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