Thursday, December 23, 2010

Into the Darkness Excerpt

 An excerpt from a young adult book I have started.  A little long for a Thursday tale, but this is chapter one and part of chapter two.  Let me know what you think.

The Teacher goes Missing

Doug sat down in his normal seat in the last row of the classroom. He dug through his backpack until he found his colored pencils. Mr. Garrett was writing on the board, but class was not for another fifteen minutes and Doug was not ready to start school work.

Mr. Garrett taught english in Doug's first period class and they had just finished reading The Jungle Book. Doug had not liked it, it was too much of a kid's book for him, he thought as he worked on drawing the dragon from the book he was reading.

"Hey, whatcha drawing?" Samantha asked, looking over Doug's shoulder.

"It's this white dragon Drizzt had to kill to find this sword..."

Sam tuned Doug out but continued to watch her friend draw. As the first bell of school drew near, Mr. Garrett pulled down the projection screen, covering what he had been writing.

The bell rang and after all of the students had finally settled down, Mr. Garrett stood up and told the class that to celebrate finishingThe Jungle Book, they were going to watch the movie over the next three days.

A couple of kids groaned, a few cheered, and Sam put her head down on her desk, her long auburn hair spilling everywhere.

"Doug," she started, "Wake me up when class is over."

"K," Doug replied, continuing to draw his dragon.

Mr. Garrett walked back to his desk, picked up a remote control, and pressed a button. The projector hummed to life and the opening scene of The Jungle Book played to the class.

After a few minutes, Jakob, who sat in front of Doug stood up and walked to the back of the room.
Of the eighteen students in the classroom, only two, Doug and Sam, shared the same story as to what happened next.

And their story was, "I didn't see anything."

What really happened was this...

Jakob stood up and walked to the back of the classroom, where, after saying he couldn't see, he flipped the light switch to the off position.

Mr. Garrett shouted "NO!" and then shrieked. A loud thud sounded as the screen rolled back into the ceiling, revealing what the teacher had been writing on the board.

Jakob flipped the light back on, but it was too late. Mr. Garrett was gone. The only sign that he had even been there was his coat hanging on the back of his chair, and his last message to his students, written in the curly handwriting that he had always used.

Don't turn off the lights.
Light is the absence of darkness.

The principal closed school for the day, while the adults tried to figure out what had happened.
As Doug and Samantha walked home, they were talking about the math they had missed.

"Do you think that Mrs. Jones will make us take that quiz tomorrow? I hope not. I hate algebra." Samantha made a face to show her disgust, and Doug laughed at her.

"I do. I hate algebra," she repeated.

"What do you think happened to him?" Doug asked, kicking a small rock that was on the sidewalk. It skipped away as Samantha responded.


Doug stopped and stared at her.

"Oh, you mean Mr. Garrett?" She frowned. "I don't know, maybe aliens took him."

"Come on Sam, be serious, how did he just disappear? I heard the police went to his house already."

"Did they find anything?"

"I don't think so," Doug said.

"Why aren't you in school?" A Silver van pulled up beside the two kids.

"Hi mom," said Samantha. "They closed school after Mr. Garrett went missing."

"Your English teacher?"

"Yeah." Doug nodded.

"Oh my god, what happened?"

"They don't know, Mrs. Thomson." Doug answered his friend's mother.

"Get in, you're coming home." Mrs. Thomson turned her attention to her daughter.
Samantha knew better than to argue and opened the sliding door, climbing across the seat to sit behind her mother.

"You too Doug, I'll drop you off."

"Thank you Mrs. Thomson," Doug got in and buckled his seatbelt.

"How'd your algebra quiz go?" Samantha's mom asked.

"Fine," Samantha responded at the same time that Doug said "We didn't take it."

"Samantha!" Mrs. Thomson had a way of making her daughters name sound like a threat.

"Fine, we didn't take it, Mr. Garrett disappeared during our class." Samantha sighed.

"Oh." Was the only response that was offered and the three people rode silently to their homes.

"Thanks again Mrs. Thomson," Doug said as he shut the sliding door to the van. He ran up the lawn his townhouse shared with its neighbor and retrieved the key that was stuck to the underside of a rock hidden amidst his mother's rose garden.

Unlocking the door, he stuck the key back to the rock and tossed it into the roses. He went to his room and hung the dragon next to the other pictures he had drawn. There was a one-eyed minotaur with a giant axe standing over four shadowy figures. Next to that were six different dragons, one of which was impaled upon a knight's lance. He set his backpack down at his desk, picked up the book he was reading, Icewind Dale, and lay on his bed, reading for the rest of the day. His parents hadn't heard about Mr. Garrett's disappearance, and at supper Doug told them as much as he remembered the other kids telling him.

Afterward, he went back to his room and spent some time looking over his math so he would be ready for the quiz in case Mrs. Jones still made them take it.

His mind kept wandering back to the book he was reading, and pretty soon he had fallen asleep at his desk.

"DOUG!" his mom called up the stairs to him, awakening him with a start.

"Yes!" he called back.

"Bed time."

"Ok, mom," He got up, washed his face, brushed his teeth, and ran down the stairs to kiss his mom and dad good night. This done, he ran back upstairs and leapt into bed.

He shut the light next to his bed off and grabbed his flashlight, ducking completely under the covers so he could read more without his parents catching him. While he was reading, he thought he heard a scratching sound in his room and jumped, throwing the covers off of him.

He looked around, but the only thing he saw was the large oak tree tapping against his bedroom's only window. Doug chuckled to himself and ducked underneath the covers again to read more.

The flashlight still lit the tent he had created for himself when his alarm went off the next morning. Untangling himself from his blankets, he stood up and walked over to his desk, where his clock was. He silenced the alarm and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. He glanced at the wall and noticed that his new dragon was missing. In its place hung a picture of a man he did not remember drawing.

It was of Mr. Garrett. On the back, in his teacher's handwriting, it said

Help Me!
 They took me into the darkness.

Into the Darkness

Doug showed the picture to Samantha when they met to walk to school.

"That's pretty good, did you draw it from memory?" She asked.

"I didn't draw it." Doug replied, his eyes wide.

"Then who..where did"

"It was hanging on my wall this morning when I woke up. Look." Doug flipped the paper over and showed the note to his best friend.

"Is that....from him?" She held the paper, staring hard at the words. "What's he mean, into the darkness?"

"Well, while I was getting ready for school this morning I was thinking about it."

"Yeah," Samantha raised her eyebrows. "And?" She prodded.

"Well, remember last semester when we got Mr. Gander to talk about aliens for an entire period?" Doug could not help but smile at the memory of how animated their science teacher had become during that conversation.

"You mean when he told us that the speed of light was impossible to reach? I still don't get what he meant."

"Well what he was saying..." Doug got distracted but caught himself. "Wait, later. Do you remember Mr. Gander saying that darkness is the absence of light?"

"Yeah...and thats what Mr. Garrett had on the board...No, his said the opposite."

"Yeah, what if it WAS aliens, and Mr. Gander had been wrong? What if it is the speed of dark that they travelled?"

"Don't be silly Doug, there's no such things as aliens. Mr. Gander was right about that."

"Then maybe something came out of the dark and grabbed him?"

"You're still being silly. You read too much of that science fiction. Maybe it was a dragon..." She stuck her tongue out at Doug as she said this. "Look, the police will figure it out. Are you sure you didn't draw this just to creep me out? It looks like one of your drawings."

Doug took the picture back from her as they walked up to the front door of the school. "No, I didn't draw it. I promise."

Samantha shook her head. "Where do we go now? Do you think they will have a substitute? Anyways, I have to go to my locker, I will see you in class."

Doug watched her walk down the hallway before he headed to the classroom that had been the site of the previous day's fuss. A sign on the door told him and the rest of his class to go down the hall to room 405B where Ms. Jackson would allow them to finish watching the movie with her class, and she would also take attendance.

He stood by the door and waited for Samantha to show up, determined to talk to her more about what he thought took Mr. Garrett. While he waited, curiosity got the better of him and he tried the room's door. It was unlocked.

"Hey Doug!" It was Jakob. "Whatcha doing?"

"Just waiting on Sam. How you doing?" Doug removed his hand from the door handle and turned to face Jakob.

"Oh, you know. You coming to class?'

"Yeah, as soon as Samantha shows up, we'll see you there." Doug smiled and pulled his book out of his backpack, hoping that Jakob would get the hint. He did, and Doug quickly read the last five pages of the story, closing the book as Samantha walked up.

"So, we get to go sit in Ms. Jackson's class?" She read the note on the door.

"Yeah, but hold on a sec." Before she could argue, Doug had opened the door and was inside. Samantha followed him out of sheer habit.

"Doug," she hissed. "What are you doing?"

"I just wanted to look around. So, what happened in here?"

"Well, I was asleep, and Mr. Garrett screaming woke me up."

"Yeah, and I was working on the dragon." He referred to the drawing that was now missing from his bedroom. "And then Jakob got up, and switched off the lights." Doug walked over to the light switch, pantomiming Jakob's walk. He reached up, and before Samantha could say a word, he turned off the lights.

Samantha screamed.

Doug immediately turned the lights back on and Samantha glared at him. "Douglas Stanley Smith!"

Doug laughed. "All I was saying was that Jakob flipped the lights off." He flicked the switch again. This time Samantha made no sound.

"And then Mr. Garrett screamed," he turned the lights back on, and was alone.

"Samantha? This isn't funny!" He bent down and began to look underneath the desks, but Sam was no where to be found. "Sam, I get it, I'm sorry. You can come out now." His lip quivered as he got back to the only door to the classroom, right next to the light switch. He opened the door and peered out into the hallway, but Sam was not out there either. Quietly he shut the door again, closing himself in the classroom. He sat down against the wall and hung his head. What had he done? he thought to himself.

Doug spent a few minutes psyching himself up before he stood up and turned the lights off again.

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