Here I am, sitting here, bent over. It's just another day, now that the kids have left, and the lights are off. The air is silent. I am alone.
For fifteen years, I've been here. Clawed my way up to principality. Made this the best school in the county. But as I stare through the windows that stretch across the whole wall, as I see the mounds of leaves on the forested hills and the last stretch of power lines above, I wonder.
I've spent so much time dying under fluorescent lights. So many headaches. Tiny voices like spines sticking in my nerves. But they're all gone now. All I see is blue shade on the empty seats behind me, and the Great Wild ahead.
Isn't that where I should be? They say there are animals in the forest, that dangers lurk in the dark, but as I take it all in, I feel nothing but peace. I feel so much calmer now, in the shade.
The lights flicker on.
I should be the only one here.
I jump out of the chair and check my surroundings, rubbing my eyes as they adjust. Half the cafeteria is unlit. I look up, and see that the border between light and dark is flickering on and off.
It's the problem with the electric system; it happened nine months ago, before school started, and sporadically the year before that. Kids fucked with the outlets; got caught and reprimanded several times. But that isn't the only thing malfunctioning.
I hear a...a sound. It's almost like when you hear that ringing in your ears, and the more you focus on it the louder it becomes. But it's not just a sound, it's silent, and ever-so-loud, too.
It's stress. The feeling of stress. The feeling of all those years of grating agony, of all the pills cramming down my throat until it was raw.
This is withdrawal. I was clean... clean for nine months. The hard part was over, but...I can't help it...when I stare at those bright tables under that unnatural white light I feel a headache coming on.
I look down at my name-tag with my smiling picture, feel the lamination, try to remind myself that it's over as I walk around. But when my eyes fall on those tables, I can almost hear those children yelling like a cult of chaos roaring and out-roaring themselves until I scream at them to stop hour after hour day after day for years on end.
They were the real demons. Not monsters. Not ghosts. Not frightening, not scary... but destroyers. They had no claws, no sharp teeth. But they almost killed me all the same.
I can feel my fucking fists shaking. No more of that.
I turn around. The row of lights above the window have all gone out.
I walk back over, feel for the glass. It's gone.
I start slapping my face, violently, trying to determine if I'm awake or asleep. I realize that the school is closed, and nobody is allowed in during these hours. Why the hell was I in the cafeteria to begin with?
I'm too panicked to think, and it only grows as I step ahead through where the glass should be and plant my feet on the leaves.
I turn around, test the glass again. Still gone. It was never there in the first place, I guess, but I clearly saw a window there... am I hallucinating, or what?
I look back at the cafeteria. It looks so... reflective. There's definitely the appearance of glass in front of me, even though I can walk through it.
I step back inside.
Deep within the rows of tables, I see a man lying face-down, wearing my clothes.
All the lights are off, now. They're here.
We stare together, the children I killed and I, at the window.
The man on the floor wasn't like us. He had whites in his eyes.