It all started back in 8th grade, when my parents, my little sister and I moved to a big city six hours from our old home. The community was growing rapidly, so a lot of new houses were going up and a lot of new buildings were being built. We rented an apartment at the beginning of the summer while we waited for our house to finish construction. We'd asked for an intercom to be included, so we could communicate without having to shout. The local schools were extremely good; some people moved here just to enroll their kids there.
By the end of the summer, I was all set to go to one of the best middle schools in the state, and so was my sister, who was starting 6th grade.
Since we both wanted a career in music, she joined the band and I joined the choir. We couldn't wait to start, since we hadn't had many friends to miss when we moved.
The first day of school was crazy; over 1500 kids rushing past in the halls, those first-day games the teachers always play and tons of stuff for parents to sign were all a blur to me. One thing stood out, though.
I don't know what it was about my choir teacher, but something seemed... off. Maybe it was the super-reflective glasses she wore that hid her eyes. Maybe it was that she always seemed to be smiling. Maybe it was that if you thought about it, she very well could have been our age... but I dismissed these things. She probably polished her glasses a lot. She was most likely a very happy person. And some teachers were in their 20's; she must have just looked really young. But the one thing that creeped me out was how no matter which way she turned, I could feel those unseen eyes on me.
I went home and told my parents about it, but they just laughed and said, "Oh, Celeste, it's first-day anxiety, especially since you're a new kid."
I laughed nervously. "Yeah, probably just that.."
I had a nightmare that night. I was back in the school, but it was empty. The halls were dark. The whole place was eerie and gave me chills as I walked down the long halls. Then I heard a giggle. At first it was soft, but it eventually grew louder as I broke into a run. Off-pitch piano notes started playing a song I'd never heard before. All of a sudden I ran into something and fell down. I couldn't see what it was until the half moon came out from behind the clouds and shone down through the skylight.
It was my choir teacher, holding what looked like a sharp-ended baton and my classmate, Adeline's severed head. Adeline had a half note cut into her forehead. My teacher started cackling loudly. The piano music got louder and faster. The hall became dark and the walls seemed to be closing in on me as the piano notes became more random; the song from before turned into something that resembled nails on a chalkboard. I woke up screaming and in a cold sweat.
Two months later, it was Halloween and I had finally finished passing out candy to the younger kids. One of them had kind of creeped me out, though... the scariest clown costume I've ever seen. I sat in my room playing on my phone and listening to music with the lights off. "Fireflies" by Owl City ended, and "Dear John" by Taylor Swift started playing. But something was weird. It was definitely Taylor's voice, but she was singing a bit out of tune. And the lyrics were different.. she sang, "...Wonderin' which nightmare I'd be tortured with in my sleep... tonight. Well, I finally snapped and this song is to let you know why!" The music got faster and was mixed with the sounds of insane laughter. I quickly skipped to the next song, visibly shaken. Adele started singing off-pitch, and the song went, "I want to watch you fall, rolling in the blood..." I skipped songs again.
To my horror, every song on my iPhone had been replaced with out-of-tune, more grotesque versions. I found myself listening to songs like "I'm Glad You Died", and "Somebody That Used to Live." I finally paused the music so I wouldn't have to keep listening.
I sat in the silent darkness, then turned around to see the moon coming out from behind the clouds. A half-moon. All of a sudden, I heard it.
At first it was so faint I thought I was just imagining it, but then it got louder and I knew I couldn't be. Giggling was coming through the intercom, getting louder. I thought it was just my sister playing pranks... until I heard her cry for help. "CHRISTINE!!" I yelled. The giggling stopped. My sister's screams stopped. All was quiet. I had never been more terrified in my life.
I hugged my knees close to my chest and squeezed my eyes tight, wanting this all to be a dream, wanting to wake up. To this day, I wish I hadn't done that. I felt like I was being watched and snapped my eyes open. What I saw was enough to send shivers down my spine.
I was met with a horrid, crooked grin and super-reflective glasses, as well as messy, long brown hair. I was met with the sight of my sister's severed head with an eighth note scrawled into her forehead and a terrified expression etched on her face. I was met with my choir teacher, sharp-ended baton in her right hand and Christine's head in the other. Insane laughter filled the room as that horrid off-pitch piano music from my nightmare played through the intercom.
I tried to scream, tried to do something but no sound came out, and my body was literally frozen with a new kind of fear. The laughter stopped and the piano music got softer. My teacher dropped Christine's head and it hit the ground with a thud. She giggled and leaned closer to me, tracing light patterns on my face with the baton.
Then she spoke, "Your sister had a nice voice, too high-pitched for my liking though..." she sighed. "But you... are a natural." Her smile got bigger, if that was possible. "YOUR voice is perfect!" she exclaimed. She removed her glasses, revealing two blue, glowing orbs instead of eyes. She put the baton on my forehead and murmured, "You'll make such beautiful music..." I felt a sharp pain in my forehead as she began to carve something with the baton. I was now able to scream and I did, my voice echoing throughout the house and echoing off the walls. I felt warm, sticky blood drip down my face as the baton was removed and I just sat there, crying. She held the baton to my neck and giggled again. She was about to slit my throat but then stopped.
Her eyes got wide and her smile faded. She opened the window and jumped out. I was confused, but then I heard it: a police siren. I cried again, but whether my tears were of sadness or joy I did not know.
The police arrived to find my parents knocked out and my sister's body downstairs. They came to my room to find me sobbing and covered in blood, Christine's head on the floor. At first, they thought I had gone insane but then I told them what happened and they surprisingly believed me.
But then again, they were the strangest cops I've ever seen. They took me to the hospital and I saw my face in the mirror for the first time. There, scratched into my forehead so deep it would leave a scar... was the "natural" sign. I shuddered and remembered what she had said right before then. "You... your voice is perfect! You'll make such beautiful music..."