Looking back several years, being so excited to be a fifth grader seems kind of silly. I don't know what grade starts middle school where you live, but around here fifth grade was the last year of elementary school. You got to be the top dogs, and the younger kids looked up to you. The school I was going to at the time was a small, private one owned by a church. Though I never told my parents what it was, there was something that terrified me so bad I started to cry at the thought of going back there. I never told them. It was too scary. But I'm more mature now, and perhaps a warning to you all would be good.
A few of us children would always be waiting later in the day for our parents, who took about an hour and a half extra to get to the school to pick us up. Out in front of the elementary school was an older school house. It looked like one of those smaller, country churches, but without the cross at the top or bells. It had bricks that looked like they needed painting. None of us had gotten close enough to see inside, the steps leading up to the only door were very steep and almost entirely blocked off by two large bushes.
This particular day, Gwen, Lisa, Mark, and myself were the only fifth graders out there. One of the little second graders, a new kid, came up to us and asked about the building.
"We don't know about it," Mark answered. "We've never been in there."
The topic of the old building had drawn a small crowd of children, mostly ones new to the school, but a few fourth graders who had been there long enough to have started to wonder about the old building. "Why?" asked one of the kids. "Is it locked?"
We looked between ourselves. We didn't know. This didn't sit well with us. We were the big kids, we were supposed to be in charge and know stuff, right?
"Let's find out," Mark decided. "One of us will go in the building if it's unlocked!"
Gwen glared at him. "I'm not going in there! It's probably all dusty and full of bugs!"
There was only a brief moment of silence. "Fine. I'll go," Mark finally gave in. I had a feeling he didn't want to go in, either, but wasn't about to be called chicken by some first graders who had been watching him.
Lisa and myself, much more interested in this building than Gwen, followed Mark to the bottom of the stairs. He went up. Much to his surprise, the door was unlocked. I suppose it made sense, it was an old building that we never saw anyone go into. So no one probably felt it needed a lock or protection. Mark stepped in, shutting the door behind him.
We all waited a short time, but eventually most everyone moved on to do their own thing. Nothing was happening, and we were kids. We got bored. Lisa, Gwen, and I were playing tag when I started to get worried. "Hey, guys? Mark's been in there a really long time."
Gwen nodded. "Yeah, I hope he's alright."
A few of the kids playing with us nodded in agreement. "Maybe someone should go in and make sure he didn't fall or something," Lisa suggested.
"I'll do it," I volunteered after a moment's hesitation. Whatever secrets that building might hold had been bugging me ever since Mark went in. I wanted to know. However, when going up the stairs, I got terrified. What if something like a skunk was in there? But there were little kids watching me, and I had to be the brave big kid who could do stuff they couldn't. So I went on in, shutting the door behind me. I wish I left it open.
There was only the light through some dusty windows to see by, so it wasn't that good. It was a simple one-room school house. I took a look around from where I stood at the back of the ancient classroom. There were only a few desks left, probably too rickety to be used. The teacher's desk at the front, through, was still intact, and in fact looked in decent condition. I saw no one in there. I started to wonder if maybe Mark had sneaked out and hidden around the back of the building in order to get us worried and scare us. I turned around to leave the school house, when I heard a voice.
"Let's play school," it said.
I whipped around on impulse. Now standing beside the desk was what looked like the corpse of a young girl, no older than I was, but it hadn't finished decomposing. Parts of it, her, like one eye, some patches on her face and arm, were decomposed, huge gaping holes showing right through to the bone or simply darkness. She donned a tarnished school dress like one might have worn in the 1950's.
"Let's see, here," she went on. The girl pulled out a skeleton, in a tattering, dusty, long dress. "She's the teacher," the corpse explained, sitting the skeleton in the chair at the desk. I was too terrified to move.
The girl moved around to the chair to manipulate the skeleton like a normal girl would have done with a doll. "Catherine!" She voiced the skeleton, having it say her name. "You've been such an awful girl." Then, dropping the faked, lower voice she used for her teacher, she turned to me. "She was such a mean teacher. I strangled her, and now no one else has to put up with her!"
Then Catherine pulled out a few other skeletons, explaining they were her parents and brother from a parent teacher conference that from the looks of it, had gone horribly wrong. I was shaking, scared frozen.
"And this is a boy who just came in here. A school needs kids, so I got him all fixed up for school!" She pulled out a corpse, not yet decayed. Mark, with his eyes missing. I can only guess that she strangled him, there seemed to be no sharp objects to impale anyone with.
Catherine paused in thought, then grinned a wicked grin. "I know! You and him can be boyfriend and girlfriend, and kiss!" The girl sat him down gingerly in one of the rickety desks, and then looked at me, undoing a blood-covered ribbon that was holding her hair back in a ponytail.
That's when I finally snapped out of it and darted out of that building before she could grab me.
No one went in after that. I barely took two steps before throwing up from the terror and disgust at the corpse of my friend and Catherine. When my parents got there shortly after, I was shaking, refusing to tell anyone what I'd seen in there. I was too scared to even go back into the normal school building, my parents had to pull me out and place me in a different school. Once away from the building, things got back on track, for awhile.
Then one day about six years later, in order to try and overcome my fear before we moved to Florida, I decided to go over to the church that owned the school for a service. Being on the grounds without flipping out would make me feel a lot better. However, due to the school and the church sharing a parking lot, I did have to walk past that building.
I couldn't get to the service. I saw Mary in the window, waving at me energetically like a long lost friend. Even though I couldn't hear her, the sight made me freeze in my tracks. I saw her mouth the words "Time for school!"
I high-tailed it out of there, and haven't even gone back to the town since.