by Rick McQuiston
I squirmed in my seat as I watched Mr. Chrzan, my Social
Studies teacher, suddenly grasp his chest, turn pale, and pitch forward,
slamming face-first onto his desk. Papers flew into the air (one of which was
my yet-to-be-graded essay), and a stack of textbooks fell to the floor, causing
a terrible noise that echoed off the shocked faces of every student in the
Immediately, a few kids ran out of the room to find help
and came back with two adults, a man and a woman. The woman used her cell phone
to call 911 as the man began CPR. But Mr. Chrzan didn't seem to respond. I could see him struggling for
breath as he convulsed on his desk.
Diverting my attention from
the crisis, I
looked around the classroom at the other kids and saw that everyone was
terrified. Obviously we had never seen someone die before, much less our
teacher. However, I did notice someone who didn't look scared. His name was
Tommy Bant, and he was a real troublemaker. Twice before, he was suspended for
beating other kids up, and just a week earlier, he got caught in the bathroom
trying to sell cigarettes. I heard he even posted online that he was going to a
build a pipe bomb and bring it to school.
watched Tommy from the corner of my eye. I didn't want him to notice me looking
at him, so I was discreet about it. He wore an awkward smirk, an expression
that was hiding something, and it made me think he might have poisoned Mr.
Chrzan. But I couldn't be sure, so I looked away. After all, you can't accuse
somebody of a crime just because they're acting weird.
Then I heard an awful sound that cut through my soul. Mr.
Chrzan made one last gasp for breath and died. His body spasmed a few times and
then went limp. The man doing CPR frantically tried to revive him, pounding on
his chest and blowing air into his mouth, but it was no good. He was dead.
I looked over at Tommy.
decided to tell on him so I stood up and calmly walked out of the classroom. I
knew I had to tell someone about my suspicions before somebody else got hurt. I
reached the door and spun around for a last look at Tommy to make sure he
wasn't following me, and saw that he was still in his seat. But instead of
smiling, he wore a blank expression, like some sort of zombie. His face was an
empty slate, void of emotion or intelligence. He just sat there, not moving at
was then that I understood. It was at that moment that I realized what was
wasn't Tommy at all. It was Velma Lucei, the new student who had transferred to
our school just a few weeks earlier. She was an odd one, keeping to herself and
wearing strange-looking charms and jewelry. During class she would mumble to
herself while playing with her jewelry, causing some of the other kids to call
her a witch. She withdrew even further into her own little world then, and
before too long, was totally shunned. No one talked to her and she talked to no
now as I stand in the doorway to Mr. Chrzan's classroom, I see Velma sitting in
her seat, smiling, and her grin chills my blood. It speaks volumes about what
she is thinking and is capable of, about what she has done.
then Tommy falls out of his chair, landing face-down on the cold tile floor.
dead before he hits the ground.
see Velma stifle a chuckle, her petite hand struggling to cover her giggling,
and as I watch, she turns her attention to me, her piercing blue eyes cutting
into my soul. Then she whispers something to herself, and I feel my chest
constrict and my left arm go numb as I struggle for breath.
Rick McQuiston is a fifty-year-old father of two who
loves anything horror-related. He’s had nearly 400 publications so far, and
written six novels, nine anthologies, one book of novellas, and edited an
anthology of Michigan authors. He’s also a guest author each year at Memphis
Junior High School. Currently, he’s working on his sixth novel.