With Halloween fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to post this creepy short story:
by Brian Cramer
Today was Dan’s first day of high school. The very thought of it put knots in his stomach. To make matters worse, his family had just moved to this little country town from the city, which meant that he also had to deal with being a strange, new kid in a tight-knit farming community.
As he walked into his homeroom for the first time, Dan could feel the heat on the back of his neck from the other student’s intent stares while he searched for an empty seat. He found one by the window in the second-to-last row. It was a choice seat, so he wondered why no one had claimed it.
He assumed the reason must be that the seats were going to be assigned later on, so for now the students had simply sat down at random. Even still, Dan could not shake the feeling that it had been a mistake to sit in that particular seat. This feeling was reinforced when he noticed that the other students kept glancing at him and whispering to each other as if he had done something wrong. It was very unnerving.
While he was thinking this, a girl walked past him and sat in the seat behind his. As if reading his thoughts, the girl said, “You are in Sally’s seat; that’s why they are looking at you.”
Dan turned around. There was a pale-skinned girl sitting behind him with blonde hair that had been braided into twin pony tails. She was looking hard at him, studying him like an entomologist might study a newly discovered species of beetle.
Dan stammered, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I’ll move.” He stood up and looked around, but the previously empty seats had already been filled.
The other students in the class were still looking at him, although he was too preoccupied at that moment to pay much attention to them. One of the students whispered to another, “It’s starting.”
The girl behind Dan motioned for him to sit back down and said, “Well, it’s not as if she is going to use it – she’s dead after all – so you might as well have a seat.”
Dan stared at the seat before hesitantly sitting down, as if half expecting to see a girl’s ghost sitting there. He then rotated sideways on the chair so that he could more easily talk to the strange girl behind him. He had several prudent questions queuing up in his mind, which he skillfully condensed into one word: “What?”
The girl gave him a reassuring smile and waved her hand dismissively. She said, “It’s just an urban legend, I’m sure. My older sister told me about it. Supposedly, last year, there was a girl named Sally who sat in that very same seat on her first day of school. She was a little weird, apparently. My sister said that she would sometimes talk to herself during class. And then, as the days went by, she started looking more and more exhausted and disheveled.
“One day, one of her classmates eventually worked up the courage to ask her why she always looked so tired. Sally stared back at him with dead eyes and said, ‘I can’t sleep. I can’t take it anymore. I don’t know what to do. I can’t take it anymore.’ And then that very same night she killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills.”
Dan rolled his eyes and said, “Yes, OK, very funny, but that sounds like the kind of story you make up to scare the new guy. Very clever. I’m not falling for it, though. Nice try anyway. I’m sure it will work on someone else.” Dan gave her a smile and added, “I’m Dan, by the way.”
Before the girl could reply, the teacher called from the front of the room, “You, in the back.”
Dan turned forward again. The teacher was looking at him. He glanced around and saw that the whole class was also looking at him. He wondered what he had done wrong. He looked back at the teacher and said, “Yes?”
The teacher tilted her head slightly and asked, “Do you mind explaining what the heck you are doing?”
Great, thought Dan, my very first day of school and already I got off on the wrong foot. Wonderful. What the heck did I do wrong? Did class start already? I must have missed the bell while talking to the weirdo ghost story girl. Oh well, I’ll just fess up.
“I’m sorry. I was just talking to my new classmate. I didn’t hear the bell. Sorry.” He gave an embarrassed half shrug to drive home the point.
The teacher now looked a little worried and said, “Dan, there’s nobody behind you.”
Dan quickly looked behind him. The desk was empty. He looked back at the teacher and then glanced around at all the other students. No one was cracking the slightest smile. Dan said with some panic in his voice, “You’re all messing with me, right?”
The teacher frowned and replied, “Actually, I was just thinking that you were messing with us.”
Dan shook his head. “No, um, sorry. No. I um, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. I was probably just… daydreaming. Um. It won’t happen again. Sorry.”
The teacher seemed mollified for the time being and began to take attendance. Eventually the other students also let him be and focused on other things. When Dan was sure that no one was watching, he glanced behind him once again. The seat was still empty. How weird, he thought, and turned back around.
He then felt hot breath on his ear and a voice whispered into it, “You’re in my seat.”
Dan whipped around, but nobody was there. Completely annoyed, he ran out of the classroom.
This was bull, and he wasn’t going to put up with it. He didn’t care if he got in trouble or not. He would be damned if he was going to be the class fool. Forget that.
When he was halfway down the hall, he began to weigh his options. He could go to the nurse’s office and sit out homeroom, or he could just go home and leave all this nonsense behind. It was certainly tempting for him to go home and forget about this stupid school, but something told him that he needed to ride out the day, so he went to the nurse’s office instead.
When he finally found the nurse’s office, he was happy that the attending nurse was a friendly sort and did not pressure him with questions. She had been at the school a number of years and was used to seeing students like Dan with the first-day jitters.
After the bell, Dan thanked the nurse and went to first period. Mercifully, things went smoothly in this class and there had been no mysteriously vanishing girl with tales of suicide. In fact, the rest of the day also went well. He had even made a few tentative friends in his classes, and it seemed like most of his teachers were not all that bad.
After school, Dan went home, watched some TV, ate dinner with his parents, did some reading, and went to bed.
As he lay there in bed, Dan wondered about the strange girl from homeroom. He had not seen her the rest of the day despite looking out for her. Maybe she had a wig on? Or maybe she let out her braids. Would I recognize her if I saw her again with a different hairstyle? Probably not. Still, how had they done it? It was obvious that the whole class had been in on it. I guess it could have been mirrors or something. If the whole class was in on it, then that was possible. I really shouldn’t have run away like that, though. Now it is going to be twice as hard to face them tomorrow. Oh well, I’ll manage somehow. For now, I really need to get to sleep.
But just before sleep came, a voice in his ear whispered, “Hey.”
Dan opened his eyes and looked around alertly, although there was no point since the room was pitch black. He struggled to control his breathing and sat bone still while straining his hearing for any other noises, but he could hear nothing except the pounding of his own heart. All was quiet.
Eventually he calmed down and dismissed it as a dream. He started to fall back asleep when again came the whisper.
“You took my seat.”
Exactly one year later, Kate was starting her first day of school. She entered homeroom and chose one of the few remaining seats. The other students started to nudge each other and whisper. They were all looking at her. Kate wondered what was going on. Did she have toothpaste in her hair or something?
As if reading her thoughts, a boy sitting behind her said, “You are in Dan’s seat; that’s why they are looking at you.”
Copyright © 2015 Brian Cramer
All rights reserved. Violators will be haunted for all eternity. “You stole my story.”
If you enjoyed this story, you may also be interested in another short story of mine, Mr. Stompy, which is available as a Kindle e-book.