"I think there is something seriously wrong with Mrs. McCreedy," Tommy whispered.
Tabby turned and leaned to her left to answer him. Something caught her eye as she did. Snapping her jaw shut, she faced the blackboard. The baleful, bulging eyes of Mrs. McCreedy were fixed on the pair that sat in the back of the classroom. Her yellowed, porcelain teeth ground as she glared down at the children. Silence pressed in on the edges of the small room. There was no reprieve from the oppressive atmosphere. Even the loud hammering of the ancient wall clock was swallowed up. Tommy felt his cheeks burn as he shifted his eyes around the room, trying desperately to find something else to look at.
Anything would be better than that creased, leathered skin. It hung from Mrs. McCreedy’s skull, draped over her bones. Reminding Tommy of a tent made from a bedsheet and chairs. Pulled taut over misshapen peaks and pooling in sagging musculature. Ochre colored flesh ringed the bloodshot orbs which stared, unblinking at him. He could not look away. Tiny beads of sweat dotted her forehead. Her great barrel chest heaved as blackened lungs labored, seeming to suck all the air from the room. She stood, her corpulence facing the blackboard, her head turned almost completely around to glare at him. Her arm was raised, drooping sails of flesh hanging from it. A word in white, half-scrawled on the blackboard. A crumbling bit of chalk still pressed to its surface. She had not moved since her head had snapped around at Tommy’s half-muttered comment to his sister.
Tommy tried to swallow, his throat grinding painfully. Sandpaper squeezing its way down his esophagus. He ran his tongue over his dry, cracking lips. It seemed as if all of moisture had been drained from his body. His eyes still locked on her’s. Grey angles appeared at the corners of his vision. He became aware of a slow thumping sound. His mind was sluggish to recognize his own slowing heartbeat. He did not notice as his breaths grew softer and infrequent, until they ceased altogether. The grey shapes merged and thickened into misty black curtains that began to draw closed. Ending the scene in which Mrs. McCreedy was the only actor. He felt and understood nothing. The black iris that ringed his vision finally spun to a close and Tommy was mercifully cast into utter darkness. He had ceased to be.
Tabby sat quietly listening to the sharp scratch of the chalk as it looped and danced across the blackboard. She looked around the room filled with students. There were no empty seats, apart from the one at her left, which had always sat empty.
She leaned to her right and whispered, “Psst… I think there is something seriously wrong with Mrs. McCreedy.”
Meagan turned and leaned to her left to answer.