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Mini-Sentio

2014-01-11 11:46:11 by Sentio

Yeterday I became a Dad for the first time!  My wife gave birth to a beautiful little boy.  Who knows, maybe one day he will take over his Daddy's NG account :).

1034030_138945873483_n.jpg


5 weeks and counting...

2013-11-29 15:27:50 by Sentio
Updated

Holy shit where did the last (nearly) 8 months go...

 

Edit: Make that one week to go until due date!  Thank goodness it managed to hold off until after Christmas.


You do the maths

2013-05-01 13:44:20 by Sentio
Updated

I made a news post a month ago that turned out to be a little premature (and I deleted it before anyone saw it). Fingers crossed that isn't true this time- the evidence suggests that this time I am right to make this post, and as I can't talk about this to any of my friends or family for a couple of months then this is going to be the outlet for my excitement and fear! It may be early. Things may go wrong. The future is a difficult thing to predict.

But if all goes well my life will change forever in January next year!

You do the maths.

UPDATE: Two weeks until the first scan now, and finally being able to tell people! Very exciting! And to top it off I've got my absolute dream job today in one of the best state schools in the South West, so everything is falling nicely into place.


I return a new man

2012-08-21 08:04:39 by Sentio

Once upon a time I fit the Newgrounds demographic perfectly- a teenager with no luck with women and too much spare time on my laptop.

There is hope for us all...

Now I return a married man after the best two weeks of my life seeing an incredible country that I desperately want to help return to its former glory. As such I will be starting a small project with that in mind... hopefully news to follow in the coming months.

House.... check
Job..... check (though not quite what I want yet)
Wife.... check
Plymouth Argyle to win.... anything.... Still waiting on that one!

Bonus points if you can identify the country we went to from this picture!

I return a new man


Newgrounds Writing Anthology

2012-06-02 05:02:57 by Sentio
Updated

Back it!

This is the first creative contribution I will ever have made to this site, and one I would love to see come to fruition after a lot of work from an awful lot of people, especially Ekublai. We've been working on this for 2 years now, and the talent involved is impressive indeed. Well worth a few dollars of your hard earned cash!


Grown up

2011-12-04 10:27:04 by Sentio

New house... new fiancee! Not a bad few weeks!


Growing up!

2011-10-16 10:18:53 by Sentio
Updated

12 days and counting until we move into our beautiful new house in a beautiful town that is definitely not Swindon! Hurrah! We were out buying furniture yesterday, and I think for the first time I felt like I had properly grown up (despite now being a fully fledged teacher, I still feel like a kid at heart).

UPDATE: 4 days to go! We are getting really excited now, and for days all we have been doing is trawling shops for bargains on wooden furniture. Today- a 10 person dining table for just over 500 quid! It's weird to be actually owning furniture, and soon to be owning a house- all these years of renting and finally I will be able to do exactly what I please with the place.

But what does this mean? Is it time? Should I ask...? Only time will tell.... ;)


Profile update!

2011-01-26 09:00:56 by Sentio
Updated

So I spent some time over the last couple of days changing my icon and user pictures, having been reminded by Tom's news post. What do you think? I hardly recognise the place anymore! (not least because this has shifted the enormous wall of text that used to be here).

The profile picture to the left was actually a photo taken in 'San Pietro in Vincoli' (a church) in Rome - the flash on my camera brought out the neon blue and made it one of the best pictures I have ever taken!

Profile update!



Picos's School: Consequences (Second Part- First part is here.)

"They looked ok to me" a hesitant Darnell replied, his mind still elsewhere. "I mean, this is no championship side, you know, but they still made those Nuggets look pretty pathetic last night". He was almost starting to smile by this point, recalling the game they had caught on the dorm TV through a haze of static. They might not have been able to make out the ball or players, but it was still better than no basketball! "I mean, it looked like they have a strong D this season, but I don't see them putting enough points on strong teams... I don't know. Hey man, this grub is good today!" This final sentence was smothered by a mouthful of spaghetti and meat sauce.

"You know, you're right mate. This is the best food we've had in weeks here. Maybe things are looking up after all", and with that Carl attacked his plate with fervor, wolfing the food down as if it would get up and make a break for freedom at any moment. "Though I must say, there is a strange crunch to parts of it. I wonder wh..."

"Eeeeeeeeeeekk", a squeal from across the room interrupted Carl mid-flow, his fork half way to a mouth still dribbling tomato sauce from the previous mouthful. Had he known better he would have thought the noise had come from a tall, muscle-bound kid called Dwayne, who was a former football prodigy and resident hard-nut, but he quickly banished that idea. Rumor had it that Dwayne hadn't so much as whimpered when someone had broken into his house when he was just 7 years old and slaughtered his entire family before his eyes, there was no way he would scream at a bit of hot sauce and some pasta.

"Aaaagggggggghhhhhh!" Spinning around, Darnell was able to catch a glimpse of a large girl who had clearly been enjoying her meal with some gusto appear to choke, before she span round and fled the room, one pillow of a hand covering her mouth, the other clutching her ample stomach.

"Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!"
"Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrggghhhh!"
"Uuurrrrggggggghhhhhhhhh!"
"Muuummmmmmyyyyyyy!" (Wayne again...)

Shouts of horror and revulsion were going up all around the room now. Some students had fled, faces swamp green and ready to explode, while others had simply let the torrent loose where they sat. Fountains of vomit filled the room, cascading through the air in delicate arcs. Those attempting to escape the mayhem suddenly found the floor an ice-rink of half digested Bolognese.

"What the hell is going on?" Carl asked Darnell, shouting above the chaos of the lunch hall as students fled in all directions, some literally crawling for the exits, hands and knees caked in vomit. "This is madness!"

Darnell looked up, fighting to swallow his last mouthful of pasta as he attempted to respond. It was a shame to waste it after all. "I have no idea man. Maybe one of the big guys let a bad one off over there? Seems like a lot of fuss over nothing to me." He was still struggling to chew as he spoke, spitting flecks of sauce across the table. Carefully he removed the hard lump that was causing him so much trouble and put it down on the edge of his plate. "What you staring at man?"

Carl had suddenly become fixated on Darnell's undulating jaw. His eyes were as wide as the dinner plates in front of them, unable to tear away from his friend's last supper.

"You still hungry? Too late to blag anything off me I'm afraid, but there is plenty more going on the next table. Here, I'll grab you a plate!" Darnell reached over and grabbed a still steaming plateful, long since vacated by its puke-stricken owner.

And at last he realized what was wrong.

Sitting in the middle of the plate, wrapped gently in a nest of spaghetti like a freshly laid egg, was a single, staring eyeball. It was gently oozing grey jelly into the surrounding sauce, the dangling optic nerve gently twirled around the stricken fork. Darnell's appetite suddenly vanished as quickly as the color from his face, and together he and Carl made a dash for the lavatories, leaving their unique hors d'oeuvre to watch them flee.

A half chewed finger nail, daintily painted in red and black, was the only thing left to identify brave Sonia.

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Pico's Journal. October 24th 2010

Filthy pigs didn't enjoy their trough today. Funny, they normally enjoy feeding on the misery of others. On the blood of others. Maybe now He understands what He is dealing with. I noticed his plate was cleared. Perhaps he recognized the crop? Perhaps he enjoyed it...

Justice tasted sweet to me.

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-------

Overlook was a much quieter place with the passing of Sonia. The lunch hall had been the only place in the school where students were able to meet up and chat with freedom during the course of the day, yet suddenly the place was deserted at mealtimes. Seemingly the school as one had lost its appetite. The building had hardly been a place of light and laughter anyway, but now people seemed completely withdrawn into their own shells; mollusks cowering from the sudden winter chill. Many students simply shuffled around staring at their own feet, terrified of any human contact at all in case they became their friend's next meal.

The Doctor had tried to allay their fears with another school announcement, insisting that the culprit would be caught and dealt with 'appropriately', but by now there wasn't a student in the school who believed him. They were certain that He was behind this, punishing poor Sonia for having the audacity to speak out against him whilst ensuring that no other student would dare to emulate her. That is, everyone was sure of this except Darnell. He still had his doubts. Pico was still behaving strangely, though he could hardly hold this against him; there wasn't a person in the school that could be considered normal. Nevertheless, there was still a nagging doubt that just couldn't be shaken off, despite Carl's best efforts, and Darnell became increasingly certain that it was his old friend that was responsible. As such he decided he couldn't pass up the opportunity when a third student went missing, once again sent to the principal's office for a minor misdemeanor.

On the night of the All Hallows' Eve Darnell and Carl crept out of their dormitory in search of Pico, determined to get to the bottom of what was going on.

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-------

The corridors were dark, lit only by the glowering moon firing beams of shadowy light through the dusty windows. Illuminated, the drab walls almost seemed to glow with an ethereal radiance; the school really did come to life at the dead of night. Undrawn drapes flitted from side to side, blown by a wind that spent the night chasing its own tail through the hushed passageways. Spiders were busy crafting their webs, waiting in silence for their prey to slip silently into the swaying death traps. Every nook and cranny had an abundance of eyes peering out for that stray moth or fly that signaled dinner time. At least some in the school were still hungry!

Noiselessly two figures moved through this scene, not needing to speak as each knew the other's intentions. They were hunting not to satisfy their stomachs, but to quell their restless minds. Their quarry had passed through here not moments before, oblivious of his extended shadow, conveniently leaving a clear trail of dusty footprints in his wake. While he had moved with purposeful determination, the pair that trailed him moved slowly, darting from shadow to shadow in what they thought was the epitome of stealth, yet jumping at the slightest breath of air. Tension tried valiantly to restrain them, but adrenaline forced them onwards towards the inevitable confrontation.

As the pair tiptoed from the corridor, stepping lightly onto the spiral staircase that lead to the dungeons, all that remained was their breath, lingering in the air like a cold mist.

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-----------

"Psst, Carl; you hear that?" Darnell whispered, clutching his friends sleeve and bringing him to a halt. "It sounded like, I don't know, a grunt or something up ahead". His wide eyes were lit by the only source of light, a river pouring from the crack under the door ahead, but determination still coursed through him to finally put an end to whatever Pico was up to.

"Yeah, I heard it", Carl replied cautiously. "Sounded to me a bit like someone dragging a body..." this sentence hung in the air for a while, daring either one of them to dispute it. They didn't. For a while they both simply stood, unsure of how to continue. While the whole plan had been to catch Pico in the act, both had clung to the hope that he was perfectly innocent and had perhaps been heading down here to rendezvous with a girl. The fact that it might end confronting a killer had never felt like a real possibility, rather a bizarre dream. Now they were trapped in a nightmare, their limbs screaming to turn and flee, yet remaining paralyzed in fear.

Finally Darnell spoke, a tremor audible in his voice "W...we have to go in there. We have to, or all this is for nothing. A...are you with me?"

"I'm with you mate", Carl replied quietly, his fear masked with a steely determination. "Just don't wimp out on me when we're in there. You know this might end in a fight, and I know he is your friend and everything, but we need to be together on this. He is... a killer..." These final words were blurted out in a rush, as if he was spitting out the most disgusting and unspeakable words he could think of.

"Oh man, what the hell are we doing down here?" Darnell moaned, tears starting to seep from the corner's of his eyes. "What kind of fucking school has dungeons anyway? It's so fucking messed up man."

"I know mate. These chambers were designed to hold students in solitary confinement while the fuzz came to take them away. There are some seriously messed up kids here after all. Seemingly your mate is one of them; perhaps the worst of them."Carl was trying to speak in a soothing tone, but his voice kept jagging in his throat. "Fuck, time we got this over with; on three?"

"Ok, on three..." and with that Darnell clutched his friend's hand tightly, taking a deep breath as he prepared for the plunge.

"One." The tinkling sound of a dripping ceiling drifted down the corridor. One of the vandals upstairs had probably left a tap on.

"Two." Tension built in their limbs. Their lungs felt like iron as they held their breath in anticipation, awaiting the final call.

"Three!" and with that they burst as one down the corridor and through the door ahead of them.

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The sight that greeted them was one lifted from their deepest nightmares. Both stood frozen in the doorway, their momentum halted as they began to comprehend what they were seeing.

It wasn't a large room, perhaps the size of a small bedroom, with a narrow wooden bench fixed to the opposite side with large deadbolts. As such they had almost careered straight into Pico, whose red hair for once did not stand out like a beacon of flame. In fact it matched the room's décor perfectly.

Every inch of the room was smeared in coagulating blood. It dripped from the ceiling, and slid slowly down the walls in thickly flowing streams. Puddles were forming on the floor, darkening and crusting as they grew. The source of this blood was clear; Pico was clutching what remained of the feet, while the arms were chained to the opposite wall. It was plain that he had been struggling to drag the shattered corpse free of its shackles; unlocking them wasn't necessary, there was little left to restrain. What flesh there was left formed a grisly curtain over ivory bones, dangling in sheets to the floor.

"Ah, it's about time you got here ladies, fancy giving me a hand?" Pico said, a crooked smile forming on his lips. "The floor is very slippery with all this blood on it, but it should be easy with some help."

"We've caught you, you bastard", Carl shouted, though still not willing to move forward. "I fucking knew it was you all along. Drop the body and... and... put your hands up?"

"Hahahaha, what the hell are you on about blondie?" Pico chuckled, seemingly enjoying the moment. "You guys really didn't think this through, did you? Coming to apprehend a murderer without ever thinking to pick up a weapon? Fortunately for you I wasn't so stupid; here, take this and keep guard. Darnell, mate, give me a hand with this will ya?"

Carl caught the small switch blade, dumbfounded by the seemingly amiable Pico. Something didn't feel right. Why wasn't he scared? He didn't seem to have any remorse at all for what he was doing, the sick son of a bitch. What kind of killer throws away his only weapon to those there to apprehend him?

Darnell had remained silent throughout this exchange, the color completely drained from his face and seemingly trickling down his increasingly sodden trouser leg. His worst nightmares were being realized, and his conscience was trying desperately to hide in the darkest depths of his mind where the horrifying truth couldn't find him. Visibly straining against his own inner turmoil, his entire body shaking with the effort, he finally turned to confront his oldest friend.

"Pico. It's over. We've caught you red handed, and we can't let you carry on." Darnell began to grow in confidence as the certainty of what he was witnessing grew. This wasn't his friend anymore, this was a monster. Gently, not wishing to wake the beast within, he continued, "This isn't school anymore, man. These kids might be messed up in the head, but most of them aren't evil. Chris wasn't evil. Sonia wasn't evil. The only evil here is you. I'm sorry man, but I'm not going to help you move... that. Let me help you get better. Chase these demons away and come back to your friends." By this point tears had begun to slowly trickle down his cheeks, dripping from his chin and clearing a small splash amidst the blood on the floor.

Pico had stopped laughing. Carl was sure that he was about to launch himself across the room in a frenzy of teeth and ripping nails, and silently moved the knife into his right hand, ready to defend himself. But instead Pico, without a word, simply dropped the corpse's leg, gently stepped over the oozing carcass, and enveloped his friend in a bear hug. Or at least it would have been had Pico not been a good foot shorter than Darnell; instead it looked more like a child holding his father.

"You know, only a true friend would stand by me and try to help, even if they thought I was a psycho. And of course you stood by me before, all those years ago, despite the things I did to those kids. But you have it all wrong, I didn't kill this guy. I didn't kill any of them!"

"What? Of course you did, you bastard! How can you possibly think you can weasel your way out of this, when we have caught you here doing... this!" Carl shouted, unable to hold his temper any longer. There was something wrong all right, and he wasn't prepared to let it slither away. "You must see that Darnell? He's lying, relying on your trust and friendship to convince you!"

Darnell wasn't listening. Instead he was looking at Pico, hope blooming like roses in his eyes. "Is it true", he whispered. "You really didn't kill them?"

"Of course it's true!" Pico said, stepping back a broad grin on his face at the faith his friend had in him. "Here, let me explain. First though do you think you could point that knife the other way? If you don't believe me after what I have to say then I will come with you peacefully." Flustered and strangely embarrassed, a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Carl withdrew the knife, though he kept it at hand just in case.

"Now I know it looks bad, but I didn't kill this guy", Pico began, sitting himself down on the bloodied bench with a sigh. "When I arrived he was chained to that wall, his insides all over his outsides just like they are now. Exactly the same was true of Chris and Sonia. I realize you still may not believe me, it certainly does seem like a strange coincidence, but after all, how do you think I did this with just that knife, and without getting any blood on my top either?!"

"Carl, he's right!" Darnell gasped, the relief pouring out of him in waves.

"But I still don't understand! What are you doing here if you didn't kill them?" Carl was still on edge, but his guard was beginning to relax as the cast iron evidence began to melt before his eyes.

"Well, I do have a small confession to make on that front", Pico responded, the first glimmer of guilt appearing on his face. "I may not have killed them, but it was me that put Chris on the roof, and Sonia in the spaghetti." He didn't give them any time to respond to this, instead rushing on as if trying to distance himself from the unpleasant truth. "You'll have to believe me when I say it was necessary; I had to let the school know what was going on! He has been slaughtering his students and getting away with it! While I can't deny that many deserved it, this school is full of the very worst kind of filth, I couldn't let the biggest shit stain of them all escape unpunished!"

"Who, Pico?" Darnell asked, relieved at his friend's apparent innocence, but fear creeping down his spine at the realization that the real killer remained at large.

"Yeah, what you getting at Pico" Carl parroted, still untrusting, but the truth beginning to dawn on him.

"Him, of course!" Pico shouted. "The Doctor!"

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In the end the plan of action was obvious. With three able bodies it had been easy to free the carcass and transport it across the school unseen, with Carl scouting ahead for potential trouble. As such it was less than twenty minutes later when a trio of shadowy figures entered the cavernous main hall, scurrying as fast as they could whilst carefully carrying what remained of the corpse between them.

"Quickly Darnell, grab one of those chairs by the wall." Pico shouted in a whisper, a cold sweat beginning to trickle down his brow. The only illumination in the room came from the open door, lighting the scene in shadows and giving it a macabre feel. "Carl, give me a hand putting it in position; if we don't hurry rigor mortis will make it impossible".

Darnell dashed for the corner, almost falling in his haste. Meanwhile the pair in the centre of the room fought and strained with the stiffening body, remarkably resistant considering the lack of flesh left on the bones. With the chair and body in place, the three friends stood to admire their handiwork. As such they were unaware of the movement behind them until it was too late...

With a crack the electric lights of the hall snapped on, bathing the room in a white glow. As the darkness scampered for the corners, the crime was revealed in all its glory. In the centre of the room stood three blood smeared boys; one short with flaming red hair, one tall and wiry with an untidy blond mop, and the third an African American with closely cut black curls, and a wet stain crawling down his left trouser leg. Between them was a brutally butchered corpse propped in a wooden school chair, one hand raised in a ghostly significance towards the grand stage at the far end of the hall.

And framed in the doorway was a towering figure, a glass of Chianti being gently swirled in his right hand.

"Well what do we have here, boys?" the unmistakable booming voice asked. "Three students out of bed after hours, and to compound that they seem to have done quite unspeakable things to one of their comrades. Tut, tut, what is a teacher to do with such behavior?"

"Don't play games with us, you bastard", Pico shouted, fire welling in his heart. "You did this! You are the murderer! All we are doing is warning the school about the monster in charge!" Trembling with rage, Pico began to move towards the Doctor, a carefully sharpened biro seemingly materializing out of nowhere in his clenched fist.

"Now Pico, you are jumping to some wild conclusions," the principal replied calmly, unshaken by Pico's wild outburst, but keeping a wary eye on the brandished pen. "I might not like my students; in fact I positively loathe them, but I have no reason to go slaughtering them when it is so much more fun to keep them alive!"

"Then why do they keep disappearing?" Carl was now moving forward alongside Pico, the knife held firmly, but a tell-tale tremor giving away the fear inside.

"Ah, now I can see why you might think that suspicious young Carl, but if you will let me I can explain." He was still standing firm; refusing to back away from the two students moving towards him, but for the first time an edge of panic touched his voice.

"Ok, explain!" Pico yelled, pointing the pen at the Doctor's throat, but pausing for the time being, his curiosity piqued. Stretching one arm out, his eyes still firmly locked on his quarry, he caught hold of Carl's top and held him steady. "Let's hear this, I like to hear a good story".

"There was a time when I enjoyed being a teacher", the Doctor began. "I could help the good students to be the very best people that they could be, and I could punish the bad ones who simply needed to be taught manners and how to behave like civilized human beings. My cane was feared across the state and many a night was spent wiping the blood of children from it in time for another day of consequences. As such my students were the best. They respected me, feared me, and that is how I liked it."

"But then the government decided that it was cruel to punish students in this way. My cane was taken away, and with it my power. Suddenly the children ruled the classroom, and in particular the little devils and bastards that had once feared me. My favorites were engulfed by the filth and vermin of the world, their chance at life destroyed by the selfish actions of their classmates. I became a source of ridicule, my classes a zoo, and so I was fired from my position by one of these modern age principals who think that poor behavior is the fault of the teacher, not the students."

"I struggled for employment after this; no school wants a teacher that can't maintain control. No school except this one that is. This place gave me a chance, and I was keen to take it."

"But why on Earth would you want to come here of all places?" Darnell piped up, no longer scared, entirely entranced by this story.

"I asked myself that many times", the Doctor continued, his rhythm unbroken by the interruption. "There is no question that this place is full of those children that I most hated, and no doubt there was part of me looking for revenge for all the hurt their brethren had caused me in the past. These students deserved punishment; every last one of them, and I wanted to punish them. As such the night before I started here I came up with a plan."

"Yeah, to murder anyone that crossed you!" Pico growled.

"As I said before, death is too good for many of these kids," the Doctor replied, exasperated at having to repeat himself. "No, I didn't want to kill them; I wanted them to suffer, like all those talented students had suffered because of them, and at the same time regain the respect and fear that I deserve!" His voice was starting to rise, causing the windows to tremble. The body in the centre of the room quietly slid off its pedestal.

"I made this place into a living Hell!" The Doctor was shouting now, reveling in the glory of his master plan. "This school is their punishment. Every stone, every spider; this is their torment, and I am its master. They live in constant, never-ending fear. Fear of darkness; fear of each other, but most of all, fear of me! No, I don't kill my students. What I do to them is far worse."

"Then what of all those students that have disappeared?" Carl was visibly shaken by this tirade.

"Ah, now that is my greatest triumph", the principal said with a smile. "A teacher cannot by feared unless his students truly believe that he is untouchable. He must be unchallengeable, and free to do what he wants with those students that disobey to set an example to the rest. Thanks to the government that isn't possible anymore, but it is here. My students don't fear me because of what I do; they fear me because of what they think I will do! I am not a monster, I am a myth; a legend spread by rumors and ghost stories."

"The disappearing students; they were simply smuggled from the building under the cover of darkness and returned to whatever dump they came from. None of them were harmed in any way! That is none of them until the last few weeks, when our little vigilante here decided to take punishment into his own hands. Isn't that right Pico?"

"B...but it wasn't Pico" Darnell stammered. "We know it wasn't Pico, he was trying to expose the killer!"

"Who else could it be?" the Doctor shouted. "Don't be so easily fooled by your friend!"

"But they are so easily fooled", a voice said from the shadows.

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"I...I can't believe it", Pico stammered, his face ashen as the true horror dawned on him. "Why would you do this? How could you do this?"

"Why, let me show you..." the oh-so familiar voice replied. "Sorry about this Carl, but they did ask".

"Hey guys, I don't feel too good", Carl moaned, bending over double clutching his stomach, his breath wheezing in uneven rasps. A small trickle of blood was running from his nose in a meandering stream.

And then he exploded. Blood and organs flew in all directions, splattering across the walls and ceiling. A wide cavern was left where his chest had once been, Carl's heart still hammering behind his shattered rib cage. Pico had thrown himself to the floor under the barrage of butchered flesh. Darnell simply stood in shock. Together they witnessed the final beats of Carl's broken core, his eyes glazing over as he toppled backwards into Darnell's arms.

"No!" Darnell whispered, shock robbing him of his voice. "Carl! Come back to me Carl! You can't be dead. You can't be!" By now his voice was rising into a wail. "You... you bitch! He never hurt you!"

Finally the figure in the corner stepped forward into the light, her dress radiant in flowery pink. "He hurt me, Darnell. They all hurt me. You hurt me!" and with that Nene let out an almighty scream, her massive frame wobbling with the exertion.

"All of you! If it hadn't been for kids like Carl we wouldn't be here! We'd have been back at school. We'd have been happy! We'd have been together forever! And you Pico..." she screamed, turning towards her oldest friend, "if you hadn't murdered those kids; if you had left the police to clean up that mess, we wouldn't be here either! We wouldn't have spent all those years locked up in that loony bin, surrounded by rapists and killers!" Finally she paused, fighting to regain her breath.

"But Nene... I did it for you!" Pico cried, stunned by the wave of hate emanating from her. "Those kids deserved what they got; I thought they were going to kill us! I thought they were going to kill you! We're together aren't we? We've always been together! Isn't that what you wanted?"

"No! I want my life back! I want my best friends back! All these years have changed you Pico; you aren't the boy I fell in love with! You're as bad as those kids were! I... I'm scared of you!" Nene was almost in tears now, water welling in the corners of her eyes.

"But Nene...." Darnell said, finally plucking up the courage to speak, "what has happened to you, babe? How did you do... that... to Carl! Where did that fun-loving chick go?"

"Remember that Indian at the hospital? We used to stay up all night chatting about life. He was a wonderful man." Nene replied, a smile spreading on her lips as she recalled better times. "One night I told him about what happened at school; about how those kids were able to throw things with their minds. It was like magic, you remember? Well, he said he knew the secret. Over the subsequent nights he taught me everything he knew; he showed me how concentrating and blocking out the world around me was enough to give the mind enormous power! Power you couldn't imagine!"

"And we thought you had simply lost your mind..." Pico sighed, finally understanding, "but you were in there all along, plotting your revenge. Letting your hate mould and form into enormous psychological power."

"Exactly; and now it is time for you to face the consequences of what you did Pico. You need to be punished for your crimes; for what you did to me! The games are over; it is time for the final move!"

Much faster than her bulk should have allowed, Nene dashed for the door. She had a strange, waddling gait, yet she seemed to almost be floating on air. The instant the last remnants of pink fabric flapped out of sight, the door slammed shut with a crash that shook the ceiling, dust floating down like snow.

"Goodbye, Pico!" a faint voice shouted, and then she was gone.

Pico and Darnell looked at each other, unsure of what was going on. Why hadn't she killed them? What did she mean 'goodbye'? The Doctor, unconcerned by this, was hammering on the door with his massive fists. Despite the mighty blows, the door stood firm, locked with more than a simple key.

A crackling sound was coming from behind them, and with it a peculiar warmth, like a warm hug from your favorite grandparent, enveloped the friends. They didn't need to turn to know what was going on; finally they understood what the consequence of their crimes would be. Excitement mixed with fear in Darnell's eyes, his face glowing as the flames moved closer. The hammering on the door increased in intensity, the Doctor now screaming for help at the top of his lungs. Of course nobody came; who would save a murderer?

The school burned to the rasping screams of the crows. For them alone, actions have no consequences.

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Epilogue

Police Report: November 1st, 2010. Overlook rehabilitation school incident.

Last night, at approximately midnight, a fire of unknown cause began in the main hall of the school. Fire drills were in place, and all staff and students were able to evacuate the building safely. Firefighters were able to douse the fire in the early hours of the morning. No part of the building is salvageable, and the institution will have to be shut down permanently. The whereabouts of the principal, a Dr Lecter, is unknown. Two heavily burned bodies were found at the source of the fire. Dental records should enable a rapid identification, though both seemed to have undergone severe trauma before the incident; no internal organs appeared to be present.

No other bodies were found.

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Halloween writing competition entry!

2010-10-29 09:44:07 by Sentio
Updated

I'd like to credit a number of influences here that have helped me to write this story, and I hope I have done them justice.

Firstly, and most obviously, this is a tribute to Newgrounds. Up to now I feel like I haven't truly contributed to this site. Sure, I have a number of posts, and I B/P with the best of them, but I can't draw, animate or make music. This is my outpouring of creativity, and I hope that the community enjoys it! Most of all I'd like to thank Tom for creating the characters, though I have taken them way beyond the bounds of that first, simple, flash.

There are a huge number of film references in here. Most notably I have used material from 'The Watchmen', particularly the graphic novel (if you have it, get it out and compare it to the journal entries!). There are obvious references to 'Jaws' and to 'Carrie', as well as numerous smaller references to films like 'The Birds', 'The Shining', 'One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest' and 'Silence of the Lambs'. I've been watching a series on the history of horror throughout writing this, so there are no doubt plenty of other references included both intentionally and unintentionally.

Finally I'd like to thank anyone with the patience to read it, and please feel free to comment. I am happy to email a copy in Microsoft word to anyone that doesn't want to work through 8 posts of white on grey text. I hope you all enjoy it- I have certainly enjoyed writing it, and please be aware that a massive amount of time and thought went into each and every sentence. Grammatical errors are 'deliberate' poetic license, to help the flow of the story (which I have imagined throughout as a film).

Also, if there is anyone out there who wishes to animate it, possibly for the next Pico day, let me know!!! I'd be happy to collaborate, but I must insist that I will only consider suitably talented animators- this is my baby, and I don't want to see it ruined by a load of MS Paint cock jokes!!

Thank you for your time, and enjoy!

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Pico's School 2: Consequences (First Part- Second Part here)

The legs were dangling enticingly, suspended as if from the hangman's noose and awaiting death. Silently, nervously he approached, smoothly slicing through the murky depths. His sleek body left hardly a ripple on the water's surface, the prey unsuspecting. The legs were flapping, kicking spray in all directions, oblivious of the imminent danger. Soon they would be kicking blood.

Carefully he maneuvered into position, waiting for the killer strike, a knife poised on its razor edge. The scent of his prey filled his nostrils, the water a succulent soup of sweat and smells. Still he crept closer, the moment drawing in like the tide, anticipation coursing through his body like a drug. His heart was hammering like a drum, pounding in his ears as the booming feet of death approached.

He struck, and screams filled the air.

"Bwahahahahahaha" Pico bawled as he shot to the surface of the pool. "What's up Darnell? Looks like you've seen a ghost! You've lost some colour; they'll drop you from the b'ball team if you're not careful!" He was laughing so hard he could barely get the words out, snot and tears mingling as he fought for breath between each hysterical convulsion.

After taking a moment to compose himself, Darnell managed to find his voice, still croaky following the ear shattering scream that had escaped. "That was so not cool, man. I was scared I'd kick your teeth out, you'd be an even uglier mug than you already are!"

"Yeah, course that was what you were scared of. I'm sure that was what you were wailing like a baby about." Pico chuckled. "Trying to act the hard man won't help, Nene saw it all, didn't ya babe"

Nene sat on the poolside, her massive frame perched precariously above the tepid water, a fragile egg waiting to fall from the wall. Drool slowly dripped from her chin and onto her white dress, emblazoned with the text "The Nurse Ratched Institute for depraved, delusional and dangerous children". Her once alive and vivacious eyes were now as blank and unseeing as her mind. Her once curvaceous figure was now little more than a blob.

"I just wasn't sure what you were up to, you psycho. Thought you might want some lovin' with little Darnell here... and anyway, we both know Nene hasn't seen much of anything since that giant Indian broke her window with his water fountain."

Darnell knew that mentioning that incident would turn Pico's attention from him. They didn't talk about how much things had changed since that fateful day at school all those years ago, but he knew that Pico blamed himself for what had happened to them. In particular he felt guilt at the fate of Nene, their best friend, now only useful as a windbreak. Now things were about to change again. This was the final day in the institute that had been home ever since their conviction and diagnosis. After all this was a place for children, and they would soon be turning 16.

Pico had fallen silent, the laughter choked from him as an iron grip descended on his heart. "You know bro, I think we should get inside and get our gear together. It'll take us a while packing for three, and anyway, I'm done with swimming," Darnell said, breaking the spectral calm that had descended over the pool like a blanket.

Pico didn't say a word; he simply moved to the side, dragging his pale but increasingly physical body from the water, leaving without a backwards glance. The world was weighing heavy on him, that was for sure, but Darnell couldn't help but worry that something more was bothering his friend. Helping Nene to her feet, he followed him inside.

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Pico's Journal. October 12th, 2010.

Carcass by poolside this morning, drool on bloated stomach. My friends are afraid of me, they see my true face. The institute is a gutter and the gutter is full of death and misery; when we leave we will take the death and misery with us. Whores and politicians put us here, the accumulated filth their sex and murder taught us, thinking only to save themselves. Tomorrow we will be free, and they will think we are saved souls. We are not saved.

We are broken.

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It towered above them, a black shadow in a darkening world. Crows squawked and swooped between the threatening turrets and towers, screaming for the blood of their next meal. Light flickered from the windows, shimmering ghosts in the wind looking down on the shoulders of its newest residents. There were no windows on the ground floor, only a vast wooden door covered in scratches and dents. It could have been a thousand years old, yet it looked like nothing short of a bomb could breach it. This was not a place people were supposed to leave. Alive at least.

Yet none of this was what struck fear into the hearts of the trio. Where normally you would expect even a brooding building such as this one to have a garden or even a pathway of some description skirting its crumbling walls, even if it was a garden of graves and a trail to hell itself, the sight that greeted them was like nothing they had ever seen.

Surrounding the building was an abyss of such complete blackness it might have been a reflection of the night sky... except at least the sky had bolts of lightning crashing down to brighten it. Nothing could brighten this void; only the crashing of waves far below were there to accompany you on the long plummet downwards.

And yet this was no dungeon. Nor was it a prison, though many would consider it and its brethren as such. This building was one of purest evil; the home of the devil himself. This building...

...was a school.

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"Please, I would like to welcome the newest members of our proud institution". Silence greeted this, the only sound that of the booming echoes chasing each other around the room. Students glanced at each other, none prepared to draw attention upon themselves and risk his wrath. Even the teachers had paled.

"I'm sure you will make them feel most at home here" the solitary voice continued. No speaker or microphone was necessary, even the bats in the tallest tower of the school could hear every carefully chosen syllable of this speech. "While we have all come from difficult backgrounds, we are united here under one common purpose; to make you the best that you can be. So with that in mind, I would like to introduce you to your new friends."

"Firstly we have Nene here. Step forwards please Nene". Even with this polite request the doors shook and plaster gently drifted from the ceiling like a fine powder of snow. Despite this Nene stood completely unblinking, drool pooling gently on the top of her ample chest. Unphased, the voice continued "Nene is here due to her peculiar sexual practices and a penchant for knives. I'm sure she will fit in wonderfully in our sexual deviants' cohort."

"Next we have Darnell. Step forward please." Slowly Darnell shuffled to the front of the stage, his feet feeling heavy and his heart hammering in his chest. "Darnell has a history of drug abuse, but primarily is here due to his enjoyment of watching things burn. He will be joining our pyromaniacs' cohort. Please make him feel welcome, and refrain from setting his clothes on fire..."

As Darnell quickly made a dash for the back of the stage and the wonderful sanctuary of anonymity, his best friend slowly stood and moved to centre stage.

"And last, but by no means least, we have Pico". Gasps greeted this announcement, and were immediately smothered by shirt sleeves and in one case a hastily ingested spider. The name Pico was capable of striking fear into the hearts of even the most depraved and violent children. "I see many of you already know of the exploits of this young man. Certainly his story has been mythologized in this and many other institutions. This child will be getting excusive membership to our most elite club; the cohort reserved only for the most deviant and dangerous individuals. He will be joining the psychopathic murderers' cohort, and I suggest most fervently that you make him feel welcome."

Every eye in the room was transfixed on the scruff of ginger hair and mask of ginger stubble framing eyes of fire, unable to turn away. Pico the vigilante was amongst them. Pico, the bringer of vengeance. Pico the murderer.

"Well that concludes morning assembly. I should remind all of you that leaving the school grounds is strictly forbidden without the accompaniment of a member of staff. Doors will be locked from 8PM to 6AM, and any student caught out of bed at night will be punished severely. These rules are in place for your own good, we wouldn't want any of you to meet with an unpleasant accident on the cliffs." At this statement a number of students shifted uncomfortably in their seats, glancing at each other nervously.

"Welcome to Overlook Rehabilitation School." These words continued to echo around the room long after the students had trooped out.

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Pico's Journal. October 13th, 2010

This school is an animal, fierce and complicated. To understand it I read its droppings, its scents, the movement of its parasites. There is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. So many deserving of retribution... so little time. Darnell is frightened. Frightened of me? Perhaps. His 'Carrie' cohort avoids me, afraid of the face of death. Nene is happy in the 'Buffalo Bill' bunch, if you can call that happy. Fear cannot touch her now. And I find myself alone in a crowd of killers. They think my being trapped in here with them funny. They laugh in the face of the devil, yet do not see his face. Little do they know...

...They are trapped in here with me.

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Days passed for the trio in the torpor of routine and regulations. Each day was split into a succession of periods, each more tedious than the last, and rarely were they given the chance to communicate with each other in their different classes, time to relax being at a premium. Time dragged between morning classes of literacy and numeracy, and then seemed to stop entirely for afternoon sessions of woodwork, bricklaying, and computer technology. Lest the students forget that this was also punishment for their past sins, the final hours of the day were spent doing 'community service' though this rarely involved any community that they could see. More often it was simply hour after hour of digging, lifting, breaking and repeating until their arms were made of jelly and their hands were so blistered they looked like bloody frog spawn.

Darnell had initially tried to keep himself to himself, but was finding that increasingly difficult as he craved the company only friends can give. It had been days since he had last spoken to Pico, who had seemingly fallen into his own world of despair. Or at least that was what he hoped the expressionless face of his best friend meant, though he was sure he occasionally caught a glimpse of fire in the back of his eyes. He had considered approaching Pico on a number of occasions, but each time something inside held him back like a leash; perhaps his own spirit of self preservation.

So instead he had tried to talk with some of his new classmates, though they were a peculiar bunch. Jack, for example, had a habit of bursting into maniacal laughter at any moment, in particular it seemed when a teacher was present. Sonia on the other hand was quiet as a lamb, her eyes sunken and skin hanging from her bones like rags. Yet at the sight of a flame her eyes lit up and glowed red as blood, and a slow smile spread over her hollow face.

The only person Darnell found any affinity with was Carl, a rangy lad a few inches taller than himself, yet with shocking blond hair and a face as white as a sheet. He had been a b'ball player in his youth, before being accused of burning down his elementary school in a fit of rage following rejection from the team for being caught with a bottle of vodka in his rucksack. He had pleaded that his alcoholic father must have put it there by mistake, but to no avail. That was little consolation to the families of the six children who, when found, were little more than blackened ash, or the school principal who committed suicide after his lax safety protocols were so brutally exposed. In Carl, Darnell found a kindred spirit; someone with their own vices and issues, but not an evil person, or one who wished harm on other people.

So it was with Carl that Darnell was talking during community service when he finally plucked up the courage to ask the one question that had burned inside him since he had set foot in Overlook.

"Who was that crazy guy who introduced us on our first morning? I mean, man was he a scary ass fucker; I've never seen anyone shout like that!" The light was fading over the cliff-top road, with the classmates busy digging a ditch to help water run off. The wind was howling like a beast from hell and the rain falling so hard it was almost drawing blood, the occasional flash of lightening helping to illuminate the scene and aiding their work. Darnell almost had to shout for his friend to hear him.

"That would be the principal of this school, mate." Carl responded, a smile on his lips, but an unmistakable look of fear lurking behind his eyes. He cast a furtive glance at Mr. Norman, the only staff member present, and was relieved to see his attention was firmly on Laughing Jack. "He has many names, though most simply refer to him as 'Sir' or 'the Doctor'. I'm not even sure if he is a doctor to be honest, though you do see him with a stethoscope around his neck occasionally. See him for just as long as it takes you to flee in the opposite direction that is!"

"What's with that guy, Carl? I mean, why is everyone so shit scared of him? Sure, he's built like a fucking tank, and his voice could break down a door, but he's still just a teacher, right? I've never known kids as messed up as the ones here to be scared of anything, but nobody will talk about him..." Darnell responded in a shouted whisper, aware of the presence of their classmates and not sure how they would react to the thought of 'him'.

"There are stories about old Doc, mate; almost as many stories as there about your pal Pico!" Carl continued, his hair whipping across his face in the wind. "Some say he snacks on the fingers of children, though nobody here is missing any digits. At least nobody that wasn't missing them already. Others say he keeps a chainsaw and a mask in the closet in his office to deal with students who misbehave. I've even heard that he once took down Chuck Norris with just his little finger! Either way, he isn't to be messed with. Any student that does disappears without a trace."

Darnell had actually started to smile for the first time in days at the crazy rumors about the principal, but as Carl finished his face fell into a precipice of despair. "D... disappear? What the hell do you mean disappear? This is a school isn't it? Sure, it is creepy as fuck with all those empty corridors, cobwebs and weird animal heads stuck on the walls, but it is still just a school!" His voice was beginning to rise into frenzy, and some of his classmates were turning their heads towards them. "Kids can't just disappear, that is fucked up man! Just... fucked up!"

"I suggest you take it up with the Doctor if you have a problem, or do what the rest of us do," a quiet voice whispered behind him. "Keep your head down and keep out of trouble."

Darnell turned to find Sonia shaking behind him, tears silently pouring down her narrow face. Never had he seen such fear in the eyes of another person, like those of a deer struck down by a car, the life slowly ebbing from them with each passing heart beat. Terror stilled his heart with a vice like grip.

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Pico's Journal. October 19th 2010

A fat boy mocks me, blubber wobbling with his cheeks. Chris, his name. Chris the cannibal. That rolling flab all that is left of his family, butchered by his greed. Disgusting. I'd have ended him there and then had he not been summoned by the principal. A more fitting punishment, perhaps, awaits him.

Fear touched him as he left. Seems the principal is more than just King of the Vermin. He intrigues me. What sort of man wishes to rule festering waste such as this? A man like me? Interesting thought. Does he think himself safe on his pedestal? It is time for new blood. Fresh blood.

It begins.

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Darnell awoke to the echo of screams, chased down the dusty corridors by the cackles of the crows, their hunger finally sated. Curiosity momentarily overcame the ever present sense of dread that lurked in his bones. Quickly he threw on a shirt and his sneakers, shaking Carl awake in the process. Together they went in search of the screams and wails still rattling through the building, the shackles of fear lifted by the heat of anticipation.

The sound was coming from outside on the main walkway up to the school, where a young woman tasked with delivering milk to the establishment was crumpled on the ground, sobs still shaking her body as if possessed by a demon. It took the pair only a moment to decide that the rules about straying from the school without an escort didn't apply when a young lady was in such distress. As Darnell and Carl approached she looked up, tears pouring down her cheeks in a cascade, her eyes betraying the horror inside. Silently she pointed over their shoulders, her eyes widening as terror gnawed at her soul. Without a word she collapsed in a dead faint, her body protecting her fragile mind from itself.

Slowly Darnell and Carl turned, hearts pounding in unison.

The sight that first greeted them was a whirling storm of black and feathers. Dozens of shadowy figures streaked through the sky, fighting and clawing to get to their prize. Still more lined the rooftops of the building, some waiting for their chance, others already satisfied. A hundred shining eyes stared down at the pair as if daring them to steal what was theirs, willing them to try. There was always room for a second course.

The couple weren't looking at the birds though. Their eyes were riveted on the source of their cackling delight.

Suspended between two of the ancient building's seemingly medieval towers was a figure, his decency only covered by the blood. His hands had been tied to the parapet, leaving his body and legs dangling in the form of the crucifix. What was left of him anyway. The crows had done an admirable job of ripping and tearing his flesh to bloody ribbons. Barely an inch of him lay untouched. One crow was busily pecking at his empty eye sockets, trying to pull out what little remained of viscous fluid that were his eyes. Another cackled happily as it tore away his genitals, fighting its brethren as it made for a perch on which it could consume them. A third was pulling at his trailing intestines, unraveling like a ball of string.

His intestines. It was clear to Darnell that the gaping gash in his body was created by no crow. The poor soul's body had been ripped apart from throat to navel, seemingly with incredible ease. His ribs had visibly been torn apart, exposing his once beating heart in its now silent alcove. It was only a mild relief to know that he had been long dead before the feast had begun. There was no doubt in Darnell's mind that he had still been alive as he was ripped apart, able to see the final sobbing thumps as his heart beat its last.

Carl has already turned away, his face paling to a nauseous shade of green, but Darnell couldn't tear his eyes away. A number of other students had appeared and were now staring along with him at the ghastly scene above, a flock of sheep staring down the growling fox. Only the crows had the audacity to break the silence. Finally a huddled group of teachers emerged from the giant wooden doors, ushering everyone to come back inside and leave the birds to their work. One by one the students returned to their dormitories, Darnell trailing slowly behind them. Who could have done such a thing? He only knew of one person, and a more terrifying thought he could not imagine.

Chris the cannibal was no more, his life of gluttony a hefty meal for the crows of Overlook.

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Pico's Journal. October 20th 2010.

Blood on my hands. It feels good. Too long since the slime of this world met the reaper. They will fear his face now. Fat and blubber under finger nails, sticky and putrid as its owner. Funny boy won't be laughing anymore.

Still, there is something wrong here. A blacker darkness than the filth that breaths and crawls in this place. He is behind it, the Doctor. Thinks himself untouchable. His throne will be trembling now; fear will be touching the beast. Fear of consequences.

Fear of me.

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"I am proud of how we are all pulling together at this difficult time", the vast booming voice belted out across the school hall. Cobwebs were physically trembling in the corners under such an auditory assault. Eyes were once more fixated on the giant figure at centre stage, his face shrouded in the shadows that haunted the building even on the brightest of days. The only thing glimmering in the morning light was the stethoscope slung around his tree trunk of a neck. "We have all suffered a terrible shock at the loss of poor Christopher, and I fully understand if any of you wish to seek solace or guidance by coming to speak to me. After all we aren't all accustomed to death here, despite our interesting backgrounds."

Pico sensed that the eyes of the Doctor had momentarily paused on him at the climax of this speech, though he couldn't be certain. He wasn't alone in feeling this though, as other eyes took sneaky glances in his direction, quickly darting away like frightened kittens lest he catch them in the act. Pico's eyes didn't shift from staring into the shadows where the Doctor's eyes were lurking. He wondered what he was thinking; wondered if he knew or just suspected the truth; wondered if he was scared.

"Anyway, we can't dwell on such issues," the Doctor continued. "Rest assured that every effort is being made to find out how exactly this terrible tragedy came about. Some of you may be asked about your whereabouts on the night of the 19th, and I implore you to be as forthcoming as possible with any information you can give. The culprit will be found, and when they are it will be the worse for them."

"It was YOU! I know it was you! You... you... MONSTER!" A wild shriek exploded from the back of the hall. Gasps accompanied the sound of scraping chairs as every person in the room turned to catch a glimpse of the lunatic who had spoken out.

Sonia stood alone, quivering like an autumn leaf but standing firm as every eye in the room turned to her. Her brown hair was thrown back from her face like a mane, hollow face radiant despite the fear clearly lurking in its depths. Anger welled up inside her like a drug, and fire lit her eyes. The students around her had forced their seats away in every direction, panic setting in as they pushed and shoved, desperate to distance themselves from her as if she was a ravenous lion rather than a small girl. She was on her own. Defiantly she continued to stare straight at The Doctor, challenging him to deny her accusations.

The sound of silence fell on the hall as every student held their breath. Fear was mixed with anticipation at the oncoming storm, and tension screamed through every inch of the room. Finally, just when the atmosphere felt like it might explode at any moment, the Doctor spoke...

"Young lady, you demonstrate exactly what I am talking about most beautifully. We are living under the extremes of psychological pressure today, and I am sure you are not alone in struggling to contain your emotions. While I appreciate your concern that perhaps I could have done more to ensure your safety, I am fully committed to protecting both your physical and mental well being. I invite you to come and visit me in my office at the conclusion of this assembly so that we can have a quiet discussion and I can help to put your heart at rest."

While the telling silence seemed to go on for an eternity, in reality the statement was only allowed to hang in the air for a moment. "I'm sorry to say our time is up this morning. Please do your best to make the most of your day at this tragic time, and try not to dwell on the past. Once again I remind you that my door remains open to any who wish to speak to an understanding ear. Teachers, lead the students out please".

With that the spell was broken. The room let their breath out as one, both relieved that the storm had passed and disappointed at the lack of carnage left in its wake. Sonia, still shuddering violently, was helped from the hall by one of the teachers, tears silently trickling down her cheeks and onto her blouse. Gazes remained fixated upon her, unable to tear away from one so brave and yet so fragile.

As she disappeared from sight one pair of eyes lingered on her longer than the rest, glowering from under a mop of ginger hair.

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Rumors abounded about the fate of Chris. It had quickly been discovered that he had paid a visit to The Doctor on the day of his demise, and that nobody had seen him since, alive at least. Common opinion placed the blame on the principal (dubbed, somewhat unoriginally, Doctor Death by some), though none were as vocal about it as Sonia had been. Cowards are common amongst the damned. What most of the discussion was about though was why he had chosen to display Chris to the school in such a way? What could he possibly have gained from scaring that poor girl as white as her milk? Surely he didn't feel a need to be more feared by the students, many of who struggled to even speak when his name was mentioned.

Darnell hadn't been sleeping well the last few nights. He alone in the school did not suspect The Doctor, though he hoped fervently that he was behind the gruesome murder. Certainly it wasn't impossible, but the fate of poor Chris had all the calling cards of his friend; his best friend, who he would have trusted to the ends of the Earth just a week previously. There was something wrong with Pico; he could see that darkness lurking and crawling behind his eyes. Darnell had seen that darkness before. The only words that had passed between them in the last two days had been cursory hellos, but Pico had clearly been distracted and had quickly made off in another direction, making some feeble excuse about work to be done. Carl had joked that Pico was secretly working at translating the Necronomicon into ginger. Darnell hadn't laughed.

Yet despite his suspicions, there was something else that was bothering him even more. Nagging fear had crawled up his spine like a spider and was now chewing at his mind with increasing venom, refusing to let him go.

Sonia was missing, and Darnell was terrified that she wouldn't stay missing for long.

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"Hey man, do you really think that crazy ass principal could be behind Chris's murder?" Darnell and Carl were sitting down to lunch in the cafeteria, students milling around like a flock of sheep, hunting for the elusive seats that meant they didn't have to sit next to a psychopath. As such many resorted to simply eating stood up, a succession of dominos propped jauntily against the walls, eyes scanning the room nervously for the person who would tip their delicate balance.

"For the thousandth time mate, if the Doc did it I think he would have made more of an effort to cover it up, don't you? While I am all for a bit of gossip, everyone is just guessing about what happened. It could just as easily have been you for all I know! You're name isn't secretly Chuckie is it?" an exasperated Carl replied. This wasn't the first time this conversation had come up. "And before you say it, I don't know if it was your mate Pico either! God knows, I'd probably go on a killing spree if I was ginger too though!"

"But what about Sonia, man? Why has she not come back to class after accusing the principal? Fuck, she isn't coming back. She isn't fucking coming back". By this point Darnell was speaking in a shouted whisper, meant more for his own ears than for his friend's. Images kept whirling around in his head of Sonia's stricken body being pecked at by crows, and no matter how hard he tried he couldn't shake them off. They were like a parasite, eating away at him until there was nothing left but madness.

"Enough already! There is nothing we can do for Sonia, so there is no point worrying about her. I'm sure she is fine, just too embarrassed to come out of her hiding place. How about changing the subject? What did you think of those Lakers last night?" Carl knew that Darnell would respond to a conversation about basketball, even in his current messed up state.