Home > Night School (Night School #1)

Night School (Night School #1)
Author: C.J. Daugherty

ONE

‘Hurry up!’

‘Will you chill out? I’m almost finished.’

Her jaw set, Allie crouched in the dark, painting the last T as Mark knelt beside her holding a torch. Their voices echoed in the empty corridor. The light beam illuminating her work quivered when he laughed.

A sudden snapping sound made them both jump.

Lights flickered above them, then flooded the school hallway.

Two uniforms stood by the door.

Allie dropped the can of paint slowly without taking her finger off the trigger, causing the letter to stretch freakishly down the door of the headmaster’s office to the dirty, linoleum floor.

‘Run.’

As the word left her lips, she was already flying down the wide corridor, the rubber soles of her trainers squeaking hollowly in the emptiness of Brixton Hill School. She didn’t look back to see if Mark was behind her.

She didn’t know where the others were, but if Harry got caught again his dad would kill him. Rounding the corner at speed she turned onto a dark stretch of corridor. At the end of it she saw the green glow of a fire exit sign.

A thrill of power rushed through her as she ran towards freedom. She was going to make it out. She was going to get away with it.

Crashing into the double doors, she shoved hard against the bar that should have freed her.

It didn’t budge.

Unbelieving, she shoved again, but the door was locked.

Bloody hell. If I hadn’t just been vandalising the place, she thought, I’d alert the local paper.

Feverishly she scanned the wide corridor. The police were between her and the main entrance. The only exit at this end was locked.

There had to be another way out.

She held her breath to listen. Voices and footsteps heading her way.

Resting her hands on her knees, she let her head drop low between her shoulders. It could not go down this way. Her parents would destroy her. A third arrest in a year? It was bad enough when they made her go to this godforsaken school. Where would they send her now?

She ran to a nearby door.

One, two, three steps.

She tried the handle.

Locked.

Across the hall to another.

One, two, three, four steps.

Locked.

She was now running towards the police. This was crazy.

But the third door opened. A supply closet.

They left the supply closet unlocked but locked empty classrooms? This school is run by idiots.

Slipping in gingerly among the shelves of paper, mop buckets and electrical equipment she couldn’t identify in the gloom, she let the door close behind her and steadied her breathing.

It was black as pitch. She held her hand up in front of her face – right in front of her face – and she couldn’t see it. She knew it was there; she could feel its existence. But not being able to see it was instantly disorienting. Reaching out to steady herself, she gasped as a top-heavy pile of papers began to slip. She struggled to rebalance it without being able to see it.

Outside the door she could hear faint voices; they sounded far away. She just had to wait a few more minutes and they’d be gone. Just a few more minutes.

It was hot, airless.

Stay calm.

She counted her heavy breaths…. twelve, thirteen, fourteen …

But it was happening. That feeling of being encased in concrete, unable to breathe. Her heart pounding, rising panic burned in her throat.

Please calm down, Allie, she begged herself. Just five minutes and you’ll be safe. The guys’ll never tell.

But it wasn’t working. She felt dizzy; suffocated.

She had to get out.

As sweat streamed down her face and the floor seemed to swing beneath her, she reached for the door handle.

No no no … It can’t be.

The inside of the door was completely smooth.

Frantic, she felt the entirety of the impassive door, then the wall around it. Nothing. There was no way to open it from the inside.

She shoved the door, scratched at its edges with her nails, but it would not give. Her breath came harder now.

It was so dark.

Curling her hands into fists, she pounded on the smooth, unyielding door.

‘Help! I can’t breathe. Open the door!’

There was no response.

‘Help me! Please?’

She hated the pleading tone in her own voice. Sobbing now, she put her cheek against the door and gasped for air as she slapped the wood with her hands.

‘Please.’

When the door opened, it did it so suddenly that she fell forward helplessly, straight into the arms of a police officer.

He held her at arm’s length, shining a torch into her eyes, taking in the wild hair and tear-streaked cheeks.

He grinned over her head at the other cop. That was when Allie saw Mark, his head down and his cap missing. His arm was firmly in the grip of another officer, who grinned back.

TWO

Against the constant rumble of a police station on a summer Friday night, Allie heard her father’s voice as clearly as if he were standing in front of her. She stopped twirling her hair and looked anxiously at the door.

‘I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. I’m very sorry for the bother,’ she heard. The tone in his voice was one she knew quite well: humiliated. By her. She heard another male voice she couldn’t quite make out and then her dad again, ‘Yes, we’re taking steps, and I appreciate your advice. We’ll discuss this and make a decision tomorrow.’

Decision? What kind of decision?

Then the door opened, and her grey eyes met his tired blue ones. She felt her heart twist in her chest just a little. Unshaven and rumpled, he looked older. And very tired.

   
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