I glare through the metal fence and into the playground of the school-house, watching as the children run around and play all sorts of games to amuse themselves. After watching for a few minuets I note the lack of adults on the playground, I always thought is was mandatory for schools to have adults present at all times, but apparently not.
After a few more minuets the bell of the school rings and echos across the concrete playground and the children all form lines, and march into the big wooden doors.
I decide to go into town and do my business and come back later to watch the children at play, I go into a few shops and nothing much happens, however the 4th shop I enter, a small charity shop that is owned by an old woman, is where my day begins to get, a little… odd.
On the wall of the shop just behind the counter are a variety of newspaper articles about a number of different things. Some about politics and the occasional award given to the town, then I glance to the far left article, it reads the following.
“Snt Augustin Primary school set ablaze
Local school Saint Austins Primary was set ablaze today and unfortunately burned to the ground. Despite the local fire brigades best efforts to control the blaze, little could be done to save the lives of those inside, a total of 370 lives were lost yet remarkably no teachers died in the inferno. We give out prayers to the family’s that lost children today and we hope they rest in peace.”
I questioned the woman about the article saying, “Did you lose someone in that fire?” I then noted the date of the article, it was about 9 years ago so she must have lost a grand child if nothing else,
“Why yes i did actually, I was the head teacher you see, so I guess you could say I did lose 370 people in that fire but one child in particular still haunts my mind… A young girl named Nancy, she had long blonde hair and always wore her apple green tie backwards, she had the biggest glasses as well, bright red they were.”
I noticed her chuckle and the slight smirk growing on her face and I decided to get out of that shop as fast as I could. What wretched person smiles at that memory?
On my way home I pass by the school from earlier and take another look inside, no one is there, not a soul… except for a girl, this girl had long blonde hair, bright red glasses and her green tie was on the wrong way. This was a shock to me, the girl perfectly matched the description of Nancy that the old lady had given me. I then realized she was holding something, a small box it looked like a box of matches but surely a child as young as her could not have a box of matches, in a school no less.
I watch as the girl opens the box and indeed pulls out a match, she walks backwards towards the school and strikes a match, she then holds it towards the wooden door.
“Stop!” I scream out to her “You’ll burn the place down, just drop the match!” I plead
She giggles an evil giggle that haunts me to this day…
“Dont touch that door!” but it was too late, the old wooden door was engulfed in flames and soon the entire school was, along with the girl.
“Hey what you doing man?” came a voice from behind me, it was my best friend Jordan, he must have seen that I was in shock because he came over to me.
I scream in retaliation “How can you ask me whats wrong when there is a burning school right!!.” As I turn to show him the burning school… my heart sinks, I can see no school or any girl… all I can see is an open field with a sign…
“Site of Saint Augustin Primary School, A tragedy we will never forget, rest in peace to all that perished”
Following that was a list of the people who died in the fire, but after reading them my heart stopped as I realized… No one called Nancy died in that fire.
Hanging from the sign was an apple green tie, the bottom half was charred away and burned. I lose my breath a little as I begin to put the pieces together.
I decide to run back to town and grab the old newspaper article that I had seen earlier that day, I planned to do some research and any extra help would have been… well, helpful.
I ran turn corner after corner racing to the shop hoping it was still open. As I turn the last corner I’m met with the sight of an old boarded up building, the walls were crumbling and crusty. I could have sworn that the shop was right there.
I press forward and decide to investigate the building hoping that I might still be able to find something that could assist my research. I push against the wooden door with a bit of force, I expected it to be stiff or even locked. But instead it just crumbles under my weight and I fall to the floor. I stand up and collect my thoughts as I begin to investigate the building.
It is completely different to the shop I had entered earlier and instead looked more like an old run down apartment. I search the first rooms and find nothing but some moldy food and some old tattered clothes. I head for the last room, judging by the layout of the building, it is most likely a storage cupboard. I creak open the door and gaze inside. Nothing.
Feeling slightly defeated I decide to head home and report the building to the authorities, no way was an old place like this safe.
On my way toward the exit however I notice a small cubby hole tucked away behind a bookcase, I try to pull it open, but it’s extremely resilient. After a couple of seconds the wood around the hinges splinters and breaks free from the wall. I am instantly hit with the smell burning and I swore I heard a giggle come from behind me, yet when I turned around there was… nobody there.
All that was in the cubby was a single burned out match. With a piece of paper lied next to it, the paper was on fire but only slightly, I pat the flame with my hand, causing me to burn myself. I then read the scrawled writing… It’s my address…
I instantly turn and run out of the building and towards my home, about half way there I notice a thick black smoke starting to fill the air above the trees in front of me and my heart begins to race.
I swing onto my street and see all my neighbors and my friends standing in front of my home… my burned home…
It takes me a moment to realize what has happened.
It takes me a moment to remember.
My beautiful wife was home today… she was looking after our newborn baby. I pray that they made it out alive.
I begin to frantically search through the crowd and begin calling my wife’s name. No response. I’m forced to stay and wait for the fire brigade to extinguish the flames.
It’s a good 10 minuets before they take control of the blaze and thanks to the lack of structure damage, they allow me to enter my home with them so that I can look for my wife and baby. I make a b-line up the stairs and swing open my bedroom door. I fall to my knees and let out a hollow cry as the smell of charred flesh meets my nostrils.
That is where I see what is left of my wife and child. Huddled in the corner, their bodies burned together.
I am filled with so many emotions at this moment. But as I notice something around my wife’s neck, as my eyes meet the apple green tie, my body is filled with horror.