Silent, A Nasty Prank
Two Years Ago, Lucy
She sprinted back to the bungalow to collect the remainder of her clothes. When she went in, she heard Veronica on the phone in one of the bedrooms, music playing in the background. The other girl Michelle was drinking wine in the kitchen with a boy. They stopped talking when they saw her. Stared at her, looking her up and down.
She ignored them and hurried to the bathroom to freshen up and dry off, burying her face and hair in a towel. How stupid of her to trust that lad, Gavin. She should have known he wouldn't believe her. He was just like the rest of the piano students here…full of himself. In future, she would ignore Gavin.
She placed the damp towel on the bath, hands trembling, and tried phoning her boyfriend Ashleigh again. No answer. He seemed to be avoiding her, she thought. She went to her own room and opened the door, nearly screaming in fright.
A skeleton hung from the ceiling, teeth parted in a macabre grin.
Slowly, the teeth parted, then clicked shut.
And then, again.
The scream threatened to tear her head in two, and she only realised a split second later that it had come from her. She began tipping out the contents of the drawers, tossing items on the floor. Wrenching a drawer from the chest, she hurled it at the wall.
Hands gripped her. Strong hands. She hadn't heard Veronica, Michelle and the boy come into the room but they had, and now Veronica was restraining her.
Laughing at her.
Michelle and the boy looking at the skeleton. Pointing and grinning.
Veronica with her phone, videoing the whole thing. Smirking.
A set up.
Ringing in her ears. Time seemed to stop as a vague blur descended, pulling her down a foggy tunnel. Breaking free, she threw herself at Veronica and dug her nails into her face.
Afterwards, she fled and rang for another taxi to take her to Katie Whittaker's.
The little boy answered again. 'Oh,' he said. 'My mum said we're not allowed to talk to you. She said you're dangerous.'
'I need to speak to her urgently.'
'She doesn't want to talk to you, Lucy,' a voice said from indoors. 'Go away.' Older voice belonging to a man. A lad in army trousers appeared and shoved the little boy out of his way.
Arthur Harlesden's grandson Steve. Total bully, from what she'd overheard in the kitchens. 'I know what you did to Veronica. She just rang. Disappear.'
'How does she know you?'
'It's none of your business.'
'She provoked me.'
'She was trying to stop you from smashing up Agnes' bungalow,' Steve said. 'You're in big trouble, Lucy. Go on. Disappear.'
'Oh,' the little boy Pete whined. 'I think you're being mean and horrible. Stop picking on her.'
'Shut up,' Steve said and gave Pete another shove.
'Hey,' she shouted. 'Don't you dare touch my brother, bully.'
He hasn't even contradicted what I said. Anyone else what have said, what are you talking about?
'Oi, come on, Steve,' another lad in army clothes said.
'I asked you a question,' Steve said to her. 'Or what? What will you do about it if I touch your brother? How come's it's okay for you to attack Veronica but not okay for me to push your brother.'
'Listen to me. Don't. Ever. Shove. Or. Touch. My brother. Again. Or you'll be sorry.'
'Is she really my sister?' the younger boy was saying. 'Mum said she was lying.'
'She is lying,' Steve said. 'Go back to Yorkshire.'
'I think she's nice,' the little boy Pete said. 'Why can't she come in if she's my sister?'
'Because she's dangerous.' Steve said. 'She tried to set fire to her school.'
'You liar,' she screamed. 'You can't say things like that.'
'It was totally out of order, Steve,' the other army lad said. He had a crew cut, but she thought his eyes were friendly. He stood between her and Steve. 'You'd better go, Lucy,' he said, in a kinder voice. 'Okay? Take care.'