When I was about eight years old, I was in the 3rd grade I think. I had a class of twenty-four and two teachers, Mrs. Stalbert and Mr. Jacobs. They were pretty normal teachers; I actually remember them being pretty nice. The classroom we were in was a pretty big one; there were twenty-four desks for students and two big desks for the teachers. The teachers, students, and class were, at first glance, pretty mundane, however if one were to look a little more closely, they would notice a few oddities in the class.
One of the first things I noticed when I was in the class was the beds. There were two white beds that were inside the wall, it looked as if there had been a door there, but the beds covered it up so I don’t know for certain. We were not allowed to touch these beds ever. Anytime someone came close to touching the beds both the teachers would say at the same time, "Please stay away from those beds please.” They would then escort the child to their seats and resume whatever they were teaching. Thinking back on it now this was really weird, but as a kid I thought this was pretty normal, I thought all teachers have rules. I never was really interested in the beds.
The second thing I noticed was the crack in the wall. It looked as if someone had crudely cut the shape of a square into the wall next to the beds. I was very curious about the crack, unlike the beds; however it being next to the beds I couldn’t really get close. After a few days of staring and being told to stay away from the beds I finally asked Mrs. Stalbert what happened to the wall by the beds. She told me that there used to be a crawlspace where the crack was, but it was sealed off, because students kept sneaking in there and getting stuck. She went on to say that erosion was the cause of the cracks and that the school needed to hire someone to seal it up. After this, my curiosity for the crack in the wall decreased from intense to mild. I no longer looked at the crack or try to touch it, however I did think about it on occasion.
The third oddity I actually thought was weird. In the morning there were crumbs and water on the floor. The first time this happened we thought that a leak sprung and the crumbs spilled out as the water hit the corners of the room. The first time I saw the mess, I bent down and touched the water, it didn’t feel like water. It felt thick almost like a solid, but it was smooth, almost slick to the touch, I remember looking at my fingers to see if there was oil on them, there wasn’t.
The crumbs however were cold and hard. I dropped one in a puddle of the thick water and it sunk in, but not like I thought it would, the water kind of bent around the crumb, almost like it was repelled by it. After a few moments of staring the teachers told us to step outside while they cleaned it all up, after a few minutes they were finished and we went on with class. This became normal after a few weeks, however the explanation Mr. Jacobs gave us was a downright lie. He said that we were to blame for the mess; he said that we were too messy during snack time and that we tracked filth from recess. I knew this to be a lie because the crumbs and water would be there even on Mondays, so how could we have made a mess if we weren’t there the previous day? I never called him out on it, calling the teacher a liar would surely get me a phone call home, and let’s just say that wasn’t in my best interest.
So, fast forward about half the school year and this kid named Ralph gets transferred into our class. I didn’t really think anything of it, but as time passed I was beginning to see why he got transferred in the first place. At first he was a quiet boy, he would just sit in the back and do his work, it was about a week into his arrival when his outbursts started. Ralph would simply shout utter nonsense mixed in with a bit of vulgarity. He was annoying at his peak, we usually just laughed at him, even as children we could recognized desperate grabs for attention.
He would do this every day for about two weeks, that’s when we got bored of Ralph and his antics, but then he started to do more daring things to catch our attention. He went on and on until one day he did the unthinkable, he spat on the beds. Now, although Ralph was new, he was aware of the rules, and he was aware of the gossip among us kids that if someone touched the beds, untold horrors awaited them at the hands of Mrs. Stalbert and Mr. Jacobs.
As soon as the spit hit the beds it seemed as if time had stopped. The air was still and quiet, you could hear the many heartbeats of the class, that fast pitter-patter of scared and still children. Ralph stopped laughing when he saw our faces; he first looked at us with confusion, and then came the childlike fear, it matched the look on our faces. He looked toward the teachers; they were descending upon him smooth and swift, it looked as if they were floating rather than walking. Ralph’s face steadily gave way to new levels of fear, fear I have yet to witness again today.
He took a step back, then another, each step getting him closer to the beds. The teachers quickened their pace; all the while they didn’t say a word they just stoically glided towards Ralph. His legs froze; it looked like he was struggling to move them, tears started streaming down his cheeks. The teachers were now face to face with Ralph, he opened his mouth to scream, but nothing came out, Mr. Jacobs put a hand on Ralph’s shoulder. Ralph fainted with that look of terror still on his face. Mr. Jacobs picked him up and told Mrs. Stalbert that he was taking Ralph to the nurse; I can only assume he did just that. Mrs. Stalbert then called a janitor; Ralph had wet himself, as did a few other students in the class.
That was one of the scariest things that have ever happened to me in my life. Aside from me thinking the teachers were going to kill Ralph, there was a certain feeling to the room when this all happened. It felt like there was a presence, not like a ghost or anything, but like the feeling you get when someone is watching you. This feeling was also clouded with overwhelming malice and contempt; it almost felt like something wanted me to know that it was there, and dared us to do something about it. I don’t know what they were or if anyone else had felt it, I just know that the whole ordeal scared me shitless.
So a few days later, Ralph comes back, he seemed fine, although he didn’t disrupt class anymore. A few kids asked him what happened and he said that Mr. Jacobs took him to the nurse and after that he went home. I honestly didn’t care about what happened to him, I didn’t want anything to do with him. After a few days Ralph began to make friends and all seemed well, that is until Ralph's mother came up to the school.
It was a Thursday and Ralph had missed all week up until that point. His mom, Miss Moris, I think it was, came to our class in tears and asked us if we knew where Ralph was, being honest, we all said we didn’t know. I guess that wasn’t enough for her because a policeman came in and talked to us and questioned us. He asked us if Ralph was acting strange, if he wanted to run away, from what I remember we all said we didn’t know. No one usually talked to Ralph, even the people that did said they had no clue what was wrong with Ralph. The police officer left the class dissatisfied with the answers we gave him.
The next day I sat at recess alone and drinking apple juice. I watched as my class played, but felt no desire of my own to play with them. I was kind of a recluse, I talked to people but I never really had any friends. A few boys would come over and try and strike up a conversation, but I always sent them away, I thought Kyle was doing the same.
Kyle was a short boy with blond hair and blue eyes. He was pretty quiet and he never really said anything to anyone. He also sat by himself during recess, just on the other side of the playground. He walked over and sat by me, the wind blew my napkins away and I had just spilled apple juice on my dress, he gave me some of his. I thanked him and asked him what he wanted.
“I want to talk to you about something,” he started. “It’s about the weird stuff that goes on in our class.”
I looked at him puzzled, but after a few seconds I realized what he was talking about. “The beds,” I said.
“Not just those, the crack in the wall, the crumbs and water, and the teachers. I think they live in the classroom.”
I burst out laughing, “What?! That’s ridiculous, how did you get that idea?”
Kyle got a little red in the face, “Well the beds for one, why do you think they are there? It’s not for decoration. Also I think the crawlspace is where they keep their food, I think the crumbs and water is them eating and drinking. There are also strange things that you and the rest of the kids just accept.”
Thinking Kyle was making a little sense, I asked, “Like what?”
“Let’s start off with the crumbs and water, why is it that when the teachers clean up the mess we get sent out of the room. Why is it that we are not allowed to see what's going on? Also can you tell me where the cleaning supplies are in the classroom?”
“Oh well that’s easy, they’re in the…” I trailed off, not knowing what to say next, it soon dawned on me that I couldn’t answer the question.
Kyle started up again, “I don’t know either, because there are no cleaning supplies in our classroom.” He paused, catching his breath, Kyle looked like he was a grown man, and his voice was in a hush tone, his face serious.
“There is also something that interests you, the crack in the wall.” My eyes met his and he smiled. “I can get you to the crack; I can even get you inside the crawlspace, that is, if you are up for it.” Seeing the reason he was talking to me about this in the first place was simple, he needed a partner for whatever reason, and I wanted to see what was in the crawlspace. It seemed like a fair trade so we agreed to meet tomorrow to enact our plan.
The plan was relatively simple. All we needed to do was break away from the class during recess, go back to the classroom, and I would finally get to inspect the crawlspace. I didn’t know what Kyle wanted out of the whole ordeal, actually part of the reason I agreed to go was because I wanted to know why he cared so much.
The next day came and soon it was time to enact our plan. Getting away from the class was easier than I thought. I guess since no one really paid any attention to us, they didn’t notice Kyle and I slip under Mr. Jacobs’ desk when everyone got into a line to leave. After we heard the door close we got out from under the desk and basically ran over to beds.
When we got about three steps away we both stopped suddenly. I looked over to him and he to me, I was sure that he felt it too, that same feeling we had when Ralph spat on the beds. We turned away from each other afraid to speak; Kyle took a step forward, the feeling intensified along with dread and a knot in my stomach. I saw Kyle clench his hands, he whispered something to himself and leapt at the beds, pulling them down.
Kyle immediately threw up. He held his stomach as vomit gushed out of his mouth and nose. I, on the other hand, silently stared at what I saw before me. For a moment it was all a blur, just a room full of meat, but soon I started to single out what I was actually staring at. Bones lay in piles every few feet, blood and cartilage was thrown about the walls like they were streamers for a party. All across the room were mason jars tightly packed with red flesh. It took me a few seconds to see the small naked frames at the far end of the room, huddled in a corner away from the light. One looked back and I saw his face to be, none other, than Ralph.
His body was the first thing I noticed, it was pale in the parts that weren’t covered in blood and viscera. His nails had been taken off and I could see his ribcage and all his bones. I looked at his face next, I wish I hadn’t. His pupils were so huge, I couldn’t see the whites of his eyes. He had no hair on his face or head and his neck seemed cocked to one side like it was stuck.
He tried to speak, but all that came out of his mouth was a clear liquid, he seemed to be choking, but just as I was about to release from his throat Kyle grabbed me and ran. We ran out of the school, all the way to his house, about two blocks away, without stopping. His mom was furious, but Kyle paid her no mind, he went straight to the phone and called the police.
When he started to explain, he looked at me with worried eyes, I knew exactly what he was thinking. I took the phone and said I knew where Ralph was, a cop was there in minutes. It took some convincing, but I told him where to find Ralph, and I guess he did because within seconds, five more police cruisers were rushing down the street.
Looking back, I think we handled the situation better than most adults. I don’t know what became of Ralph and those other kids. I don’t know what they were eating; I hope it’s not what I think. I wish I could give some parting words of advice, but I don’t know what lesson one could get out of this horrifying ordeal.