12 Jan Laughter
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Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
You wake up startled, gasping for air, as you recover from a nightmare. It’s the same nightmare that has been repeating itself for weeks now. Every night, you helplessly watch as the same damn scene unfolds right before your eyes. There are children running around in a playground, as a little girl climbs across the monkey bars. You get that nauseating feeling that something is about to happen, but you don’t know what. You try yelling for the girl to warn her, but the only thing that escapes from your throat is air. Now that you realize it’s too late, you attempt to block your eyes as the girl falls, causing a sickening crack to ring throughout your head. You look helplessly at her limp body, along with the rest of the kids who were laughing just a few minutes ago. That’s when you wake up in a cold sweat, realizing that it was just the same nightmare again. You haven’t gotten any used to it by now, and you don’t think you ever will.
Still in your sleepy daze, you look towards the bright green digital numbers staring back at you. It’s now 1:30 in the morning, same as last time. At this point, you have given up all hope of going back to sleep, and you head downstairs to get a glass of water. You realize that you have work in the morning. About a week ago, you started helping tear down an old school that hasn’t been used since the 60’s. Strangly enough, that’s when the nightmare started.
“Great,” you say between sips, “How am I going to function properly with only four hours of sleep?”
Later that morning, you arrive at the school. Obvious signs of age were shown throughout the building, such as rusting pipes, plants growing up the walls, chipping paint, and the fine sheet of dust that coated every surface within the area.
“What the hell happened to this place?” You say as you walk through the front doors.
“Mess isn’t it?” Said Mike, standing at the top of a step ladder. He seemed to be taking down some of the ceiling. The echoes of drills and nail guns rang throughout the building, with the occasional whirr of a power saw.
“So, uh, what do I got to do today?” You ask.
“Well,” said Mike, not sparing any attention from his work, “You can start by tearing up the floor boards in the gymnasium. After that, we’re gonna need your help in dismantling the chalkboards in the classrooms.”
You nod, and with that he hands you a hammer and a pry bar. As you enter the gym, the sounds of the door opening and slamming shut reverberated around the walls. It’s silent. From here, all the noises of power tools couldn’t be heard. It’s a big school, and you’re on a completely opposite wing than them. You find a corner in the gym, where you decided you will start, and you begin the challenging task of prying and ripping up wooden boards.
About halfway in, you notice something odd. It felt as though you were being watched, as if someone’s glare was drilling into your skin. In an attempt to uplift the uneasy feeling you call out,
No answer. Of course, you expected that there wouldn’t be an answer, but you had hoped that there was a reason for that feeling. You quickly shake it off and continue working. Since you started working here, nothing has ever seemed out of place, or weird. You came to the conclusion that it was just the silence that made you feel uneasy, so you decide to start listening to music while you work. But then, like before, you got that feeling that someone was watching you. Even your music didn’t seem right. It sounded as if there was this faint background noise mixed in with the singing, but you couldn’t put your finger on it.
You hastily rip one headphone out of your ear to see if someone was trying to call you or something. You find out that the background noise was laughter, and it definitely wasn’t coming from the headphones.
“Hello?” You call out as you shove the headphones into your pant pocket, “Who’s there?”
The laughter quickly fainted, as if a group of giggling children ran further into the recesses of the building.
“There’s kids in here?” You say to yourself. You pull the pry bar out from underneath a board of wood you were about to tear, and set it on the floor.
“Hello? Mike?” You call out once again. You make your out of the gym, and walk down the flight of stairs directly outside the double doors. At the bottom of the stairs, you find yourself near what looks to be a lunchroom. This was definitely not the way you came from when Mike led you into the gym, but you kept going. You first checked the lunchroom to see if the kids were hiding in there, but all there was was an open space, and some folded up lunch tables. Again, you hear the laughter coming from down the hall.
You leave the room, and walk towards the giggling, but as you seemed to get closer, it started to fade away again. When you turn the corner, you realized that you reached a dead end, with a classroom door standing at the end. The door was blue, matching the linoleum tiles decorating the floor, and rusted. You walked up to it and shook the handle, only to find out that it was locked.
“What the hell? Where’d they go?” As you spoke a hand grabbed your shoulder, causing you to jump. You turn around, and see Mike with a questioning look on his face.
“Fucking Christ, man, you scared me.” You say to him.
“Yeah I could see that,” Said Mike, “What are you doing down here? Did you finish the gym? Good, cause we need-“
“No, I didn’t finish. Hey, uh, did someone bring their kids here, or something?”
“Not as far as I know, but you need to finish tearing up the floors soon, we need some help with the electrical stuff.”
You nod, and followed him back. After you had finally untangled your headphones and started your music again, you proceeded to finish the gym’s floor. But not two minutes after you started working, you heard those goddamn kids again. This time, it seemed as though their laughing was mocking you. You figured that they will just run away again, and the laughing will stop, so you decided to continue with what you were doing, and ignored it. But it never went away. As a matter of fact, it seemed to grow louder, and more irritating at that.
“What?!” You scream at the kids, but laughing persisted. This time, you threw down your pry bar, because at this point, you didn’t feel like playing games. Instead of walking towards the noises, you ran, hoping to catch them. With each step you took, the lockers that lined the hallway shook and rattled in response. Your footsteps echoed down the stairs, as you continued chasing the kids. At this point you had no idea where you were in the building, or where you were going, but the only thing that mattered to you was following the giggling, and catching them.
As you ran, you noticed that building started to seem cleaner, and more vibrant. The paint wasn’t chipping, and the lockers were nowhere near rusted. Hell, it looked like everything had just received a new coat of paint.
“I thought they were tearing it down, not renovating it.” You thought to yourself. You kept on running, until you came by the lunchroom. You figured that you had just ran in a circle, but that theory was soon shot down when you noticed that in the lunchroom, the tables were set up, and the floors were clean. The trashcans and tables seemed to be coated with crumbs and spilled strawberry milk in some spots. This didn’t make sense, seeing how not two seconds ago, the tables were folded up, and everything seemed to be coated in dust. You stop and glare at everything, thoroughly confused, until the laughing pulled you from your thoughts. Once you started running again, the laughter stopped. No, it didn’t die down like the joke got old, everyone simultaneously stopped, as if they had all just got hit by train, halting all the noise pouring from their mouths. Along with the laughter, your footsteps stop, as you try to take in your surroundings, so that you can figure out where you were.
That’s when one small chuckle came from within the bathroom to your right. You smile, thinking,
“Oh, I’ve got them now,” as you walk into the bathroom. Unlike the rest of the area, the bathroom wasn’t nice and clean, it was a complete mess. The hinges on the stall doors and the faucets where terribly rusted, and many tiles were either cracked, or gone completely. One stall door was even hanging on only one hinge, causing it to slant awkwardly. You checked every stall, hoping to confront one of those little bastards, but no one was in there.
“What the hell?” You say out loud. You swore that you had heard a chuckle come from this exact area, how can there not be kids in here? You turn towards the faucet, and twisted the knob. You figured that if you splash your face a few times, it would help you pull yourself together. Of course, no water came out. Suddenly, you see something in the corner of the mirror that caused you to choke on your own breath.
In one of the stalls was a little girl. Her eyes, peering into yours. Except, she didn’t really have eyes, only milky white marbles that seemed too big for her skull. It wasn’t only her eyes, though. Everything about her was just not normal. Her skin clung to her bone, causing her joints to poke out. Her hair was matted and missing in some spots, like an old doll. She was wearing this torn white dress, stained with dirt and blood. And then a sudden realization hit your thoughts like a brick wall.
Under what seemed to be the remains of a rotting corpse, you realized that she resembled the girl who appears in your nightmares. Her lips slowly curled back revealing an awful set of teeth that were sharpened to a point. You scream, and run out of the bathroom. On your way out, you take note that the building didn’t look neat anymore, but was back to its state of decay. Suddenly, you bump into Mike as you turned a corner.
“What the hell are you doing?” Said Mike, clearly frustrated,” This is the second time you’ve abandoned your job.”
“What the fuck is going on here?” You yell, demanding an answer. Mike throws you a questioning look, and spoke up,
“What are you talking about? Nothing’s happening. Listen, if you feel a little sick, you can go home.”
“No, I’m fine,” You respond,” I promise I’ll finish this time. Now, where is the way back?”
Mike points towards the flight of stairs at the end of the hallway,
“Up the stairs, and down the hall to your left. You’ll see the double doors when you reach them.”
As the two of you make back to where you originally were, a thought emerges from the back of your mind.
“Hey,” You ask Mike, “Why’d this place shut down, anyways? It looks as if everyone just left one day, and didn’t come back.”
“Well,” Started Mike as the sound of footsteps reverberated around the stairwell,”A young girl, a student, died here. Apparently, it was too much sadness for the kids to handle, and it made them all depressed. So, in hopes of erasing the incident from their minds, they moved them to a different school.”
The cold hand of fear ran its sharp nails up your spine.
“How- how exactly did she die?”
As you go through the double doors, Mike answers,
“She fell from the playground and broke her neck.”
You swallowed hard, as Mike began to leave and go back to what he was doing.
“Shouldn’t be long now,” Said Mike, “You don’t have much more left to do, you’ll be done in no time.”
The sounds of the metal doors slamming shut followed afterwards.
You figured that you should hurry up, and finish tearing up the wooden boards, so that you can go home, and never come back. You start your music back up, and continued your job, half expecting to hear laughing, but nothing happened. Even when you finished, nothing happened.
On your drive home, you start questioning wether or not it was all in your head, and that the nightmare had caused you to go crazy. At the thought of the nightmare, your stomach dropped, remembering what Mike had said. This thought stuck with you until you finally decided to go to bed, knowing what was going to come next. You didn’t want to think about the playround, or the girl, ecspecially not after today. But the image of her face, her awful, awful face stuck with you.
There should be no reason for you to be paranoid now. It’s over. You’re here, and she’s all the way back there.
“Hell, she probably doesn’t even exist.” You say to yourself, as you slowly lose conciousness.
As you shut your eyes, awaiting the horrible vision, a small chuckle escapes from outside your bedroom door.
Credit To – TVATR