Back in high school, there was always a lot to keep up with for anyone. There were the crowds, the relationships, the grades; oh, and for some, the string of violent murders associated with the school.
It started in 1993.
Before I get into this, I need you to know that I’m not crazy. I wish I were. It would be easier to explain all of this. But, I’ve seen what… they do to people, and I’ve seen the outcome.
The summer before my senior year, a few of my friends moved away. I’d grown up with them; Little league, street hockey, football, we were an inseparable group, bound by common passions. It was hard for me to lose anybody, especially people as close to me as they were. So, having them all gone changed me, made me bitter and distant. More than anything, it gave me a lot of time to think about things, and see them from different angles and perspectives. They, at least don’t have to live with the horrific tale that I am about to share.
It started with Jillian Andrews in early September. She was a popular girl, not a mean bone in her. She was found disemboweled in her bedroom, no sign of forced entry, no struggle, someone had simply gutted her, and then disappeared.
Next on the list was Scotty Owens. His fate came in mid-November. He was a track star, basketball legend, you name it. Official police report states he committed suicide, but I’m smarter than that. I’m smart enough to know that you don’t just hang yourself from the branch of a towering oak tree in the sacred park that you jog in, right before a big race.
The next kid really shocked me. Bennett Christianson, quiet kid. Underclassmen. He walked into boy’s stall, began screaming bloody murder until adjacent staff members heard him. They spent hours trying to get the door unlocked to no avail until his screams suddenly, stopped ,only to have the door swing open in their faces, revealing the young sophomore, slumped over in a pool of his own viscera. His eyes ripped from their sockets.
Things like this kept happening. No explanation, for any of it. All the authorities were baffled. Apparently, this stuff had been for a long time. I just hadn’t noticed it until it was too late. This all sounds disturbing, and exaggerated, I know. Believe me, my story get much stranger.
The high school I went to was founded in 1883, first one in the state. We’ve always had some of the best sports teams of any high school in the country; taking home state and national titles like nobody’s business. But all of that came with a price. There was always a certain level of competitiveness; jealousy, and anger swam around the locker rooms, volleyball courts, and baseball diamonds. So much so that you could almost feel it. Kids would get into all-out brawls over things as trivial as who had better serves at tennis practice, or who threw the most receptions at the big football game.
However, this was only on the minor side of things.
I had to try and understand all of this. After doing some research on the school's records, I discovered a pattern. Every ten years or so, the school would undergo a string of extremely violent events. Dating all the way back to the fifties. As odd as this was, it wasn’t anywhere near as odd as the fact that at the time of my senior class, the school hadn’t had anything comparable to these events happen in nearly forty years. But I suppose it was coming back with a vengeance, because it showed no signs of stopping.
The deaths weren’t the only peculiar happenings. You see, teachers would report teenagers dressed completely in white that they had never seen before, sitting in the seats of the deceased students. When the teachers went to see what the student’s business was, they would simply vanish before the staff members could make it over to them.
It wasn’t just at school, either, and not just to authority figures.
Occasionally, while sitting in my room after school or on the weekends, I would see strange things out of the corners of my peripheral. I would get phone calls in the middle of the night, only to answer them and hear a few seconds of guttural whispers before the click and dial tone. I knew there was something wrong, and I needed to figure out what it was. I must have spent a thousand hours in that library, skipping classes to perform what was probably useless research.
I discovered a massive fire mentioned in a local paper dated August of 1953. The fire was thought to be the product of a janitor’s haphazardly extinguished Marlboro Red. The papers proudly proclaimed that the only thing that kept the school from burning to the ground was the innovative (for the time) new technique of using fire-retardant, fifties-style, space age cobblestone in place of wood.
Also, in a faded, strangely tattered paper, toward the back of the stack, almost purposefully misaligned from its periodical date sequence, was an article dated nearly ten years later. It mentioned an all-star quarterback who sustained a fractured spine in the state championship of 1963; killing him, losing them the game, and one of the best players the team had ever seen. What I read next began to confirm my suspicions of what was causing all the bizarre deaths. According to the article, the day after his fatal accident, there was a massive riot in the school that caused the deaths of innocent students. Even more peculiar was the fact that I had discovered a photo of the riot, which someone managed to capture in an Ashwood High School yearbook, that I researched earlier. In that annual, I could have sworn I saw a group of kids, dressed completely in white, with stoically blank expressions, seemingly painted on. These same kids were the ones showing up in my school, my room, and my dreams.
I searched more archives regarding the school’s history and in 1973, there were more brutal deaths. A wrestler had his neck broken whilst attempting an extremely complicated throw. Then there was the star center for the basketball team, who suffered a massive stroke during a free-throw in 1983; the article mentioned that he had been the epitome of strength and health. The rest of the archives were relatively uneventful, until what happened in the summer of 1993. My summer. My fate.
The friends I talked of earlier? They didn’t move away. I said that because it’s painful to think about what really happened to them. However, for the sake of accuracy, and fair journalistic investigation, I’ll recount the true events. All of my friends played tennis, they loved it. It was a passion for them. I loved it too. However, for me, the love of the sport was not a strong enough of a passion to attend the away training camp they all planned on going to. I opted to stay home, a decision I would live to both bless and regret.
The road up to the camp was surprisingly winding, and the bus driver was new and under experienced. One corner led to a sharp curve, and the driver couldn’t handle it. The bus, filled with over forty kids, was sent plummeting into a deep gulch. The worst part about all of this? It had been discovered that not all of the teens died upon impact. A fire started in the back of the bus not long after the crash.
To this day, I still have nightmares, I can still hear their screams. I am haunted by the image and the horror of my friends being burned alive, no escape. The nightmares began and were relentless. There was one night, in which I awoke drenched in sweat, and I remember the dream I had, clear as day.
I was sitting in my chemistry class, surrounded by what appeared to be the deceased students, whom I had researched previously and all the kids who had died this year—along with my friends. They all seemed happy; jubilant, actually. Conversing with one another, sharing jokes and stories; relishing in the general merriment of old acquaintances forgotten. After I had taken my gaze upon them, and averted my eyes back to the front of the classroom, standing in place of the ever-present teacher, was one dark haired and even darker eyed young man; dressed completely in white.
He leaned in extremely close, to the point of near discomfort, and this is what he said, “We are the feelings you keep bottled up deep inside of you, we are the emotions of hatred, jealousy, and vehement abrogation that seep into every field of every place in which competition is reverent. You can’t stop us, we are greed, we are envy, we are the very filth of human nature, and we are you.”
As he breathed those last words, the classroom burst into auburn flames, scorching and melting the classroom. And, as I sat in my desk, I realized I was alone.
That feeling of hollow emptiness was enough to jar me from my sleep. That feeling, that cold, empty, hopeless feeling, was enough to keep me wide awake and in a cold sweat for the remainder of that warm September night. The morning after, I kept my regular routine of getting ready for school; all the way to the bus stop.
I must have waited for what felt an eternity, before I came to the conclusion that there would be no bus ride. Irritated at my tardiness, I began my long, daunting traverse to the school; which had felt like hours on my tingling, sleepy feet.
When I arrived at the campus, I was met with a baffling realization: Where my school was supposed to have been, there was nothing more than a vacant lot.
An older gentleman was wandering the premises and I stopped him, checking once again to reassure myself that I was in the right place, and questioned him as to why in God’s name, my school had disappeared from the face of the earth.
Upon closer look, the old man’s eyes were a deep haunting black and his slivered hair had traces of ebony. He had a Marlboro Red between his yellowed teeth. He took the cigarette out of his mouth, threw it to the ground and looked up at me. The old man’s expression grew both tired and perplexed as he informed me that there hadn’t been an Ashwood High School there for a very long time.
Not since the great fire of 1953.