KITTY VS THE BOILER ROOM MONSTER

By Jack Bush

The Chronicles of Kitty begins…

PROLOGUE

1906

Billy knew if they catch him, he’s dead.

As he runs along the narrow corridors of the prison, that is the only thought going through his mind. His death. A death he can prolong for as long as his feet can keep him in front of his pursuers. They’d broke into his jail cell at midnight. The witching hour. Billy thought he was dead right there and then, but somehow he’d managed to escape the clutches of the hate filled prisoners. Now he was literally running for his life. A life that he knew deep down inside that he didn’t deserve. Billy wasn’t a nice man. Far from it. His list of crimes included, assault, theft, robbery and murder. He was as bad as they come. But still, he didn’t want to die. Nobody does. But everyday, people do. Billy just didn’t want to be one of them. He sees a doorway and dodges into it, leading him down a flight of stairs. At the bottom he trips and falls onto his face. But the pain doesn’t register in his senses, for he’s too terrified to feel any damage to his body. With the shouts of anger coming from the other prisoners behind him, Billy jumps back to his feet and continues to run for his miserable life. Finding himself in a long narrow corridor, Billy pours on the speed once more. Only one door is at the end of the corridor. A simple sign on it, says ‘Boiler room.’ Billy enters without a seconds thought. On the other side of the door, Billy jumps down a short metal staircase and comes to a stop in the middle of the small cold stone room. The only light coming in is from the white rays of the moon, entering via a window high up on the far wall. Too high for Billy to escape from. The only other place to hide is the furnace, which stands in the middle of the room beside Billy.

2

Billy doesn’t waste a moment in wrenching open the small arc metal door and climbing in. In the tight cramped space inside the furnace, Billy manages to close the door behind him. Then all he can do is wait. Wait for them to stop hunting him. Wait for them to get bored of looking and go back to their cells and leave him in peace. Just wait. Then Billy hears the boiler room door open and the horde of prisoners flow in. Only then does Billy realise how bad a hiding place he’s found for himself. His last victim had told Billy, before he killed him, that ‘what goes around, comes around.’ Billy was starting to believe that very saying. Even more so, when some of the prisoners looked inside the furnace and see Billy curled up in a ball. As the prisoners lock eyes with Billy, no –one says a word. There’s nothing left to be said. The prisoners’ just smiles. Billy shouts a curse on them. But the prisoners just laugh. Then they turn on the furnace. As the flames begin to burn through the floor grating of the furnace, Billy screams. But his screams don’t last for long. Although the flames themselves burn through till dawn.

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CHAPTER ONE

2006

The boiler room was cloaked in darkness.

The three young girls are standing in the centre of the room of metal and stone. Jessica stands nervously looking around. A small window, high up on the wall, shows only the moon staring back at her from the night sky, casting a cold-white hue into the room. There is no other light. “I don’t think this was such a good idea,” mumbles Jessica. “Don’t you dare chicken out on us now!” snaps Verna, “You were the one that wanted to play with us and this is where you prove if you’re brave enough!” Verna stands with her hands on her hips, staring at Jessica, waiting for the little girl to answer. At ten years old, Verna already has the stance of a typical bully down to a fine art. An intimidating expression graces her face, which is perfectly imitated by her friend, April, who stands beside her. Jessica starts to fidget with her pony-tail, as she timidly eyes the two girls infront of her. Averting her gaze, she looks at her feet, wondering why she thought this was such a good idea in the first place. Verna sniggers, as she glances at April. April pushes a few strands of her long greasy hair away from her face. “Looks like the baby needs her mummy,” she hisses at Jessica. At eight years old, Jessica looks up from her footwear. “I’m not a baby!” “Then prove it.” Jessica tries to fake bravery. “What do I have to do?” “That’s more like it,” says Verna, as she takes a step towards the younger girl. Standing at either side of Jessica; Verna and April lead her towards a large furnace, in the middle of the boiler room. April whispers into Jessica’s ear, “This is where it all happened.” Jessica just stares at the arc shaped door at the front of the grey metal furnace. “Where what all happened?” “You know the story,” demands Verna, “Don’t pretend you don’t!”

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“Remember, this place used to be a prison, long before it was our school,” adds April. Realisation dawns on Jessica. She snaps her eyes to Verna. “You don’t mean…?”

“That’s right… Billy! This is where it happened.” With fear now becoming more evident in her gaze, Jessica speaks softly. More to herself than the other two girls. “But that was just a ghost story… Wasn’t it?” Verna sniggers, “We’ll find out soon enough. You’re not scared, are you?” “No,” retorts Jessica. But the quiver in her voice tells a different tail. “Good,” says April. “‘Cause Billy can’t hurt you if you’re not scared. All he wants is your fear. If you don’t have any to give, then you’ll be fine.” “But what about all those other children that have disappeared over the years?” Enquires Jessica, “Didn’t Billy get them?” “Who knows?” chimes Verna. “All we do know, is that once Billy has eaten enough fear from little boys and girls, the next person to say the words will set him free from his fiery grave to seek vengeance on anyone who gets in his path.” Jessica stares, wide eyed at Verna. Verna just gives her a grin, laced with menace. April slaps her hand down on Jessica’s shoulder, making her jump. “But then maybe it is just all a ghost story,” whispers the older girl, “You’re about to find out. We’ll be outside the door.” April starts walking to the door. Verna turns to join her, speaking out the side of her mouth to Jessica as she goes. “Remember, you say, Billy don’t burn, three times infront of the furnace. After that, your task is done and you can play with us.” Jessica watches in silence as Verna and April ascend the metal stairs and disappear out the door of the boiler room, closing it behind them. Jessica turns her attention back to the furnace, with only herself for company now. Taking a deep breath, only one thought is going through her mind. You’re a big girl! You’re a big girl! Do it! Do it! On the verge of tears, Jessica begins. “Billy don’t burn, Billy don’t burn…” On the other side of the boiler room door, Verna and April listen. “Can you hear anything?” asks Verna. With her ear to the door in the darkness, April shakes her head, “Thought I heard her starting to say the words, but now I’m not so sure.” “Maybe we should go back in?” “Give her a couple of minutes,” replies April, “Then we go get her.” “Ok.” “I suppose she doesn’t get to play with us after all!”

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Verna laughs. So does April. From inside the boiler room, Jessica screams.

Terror suddenly grips Verna and April. Verna makes a grab for the door knob and pulls. It’s locked. Verna casts the door a confused look. The door doesn’t even have a key-hole, let alone a lock. “What’s wrong?” shouts April in a high pitched squeal. “It’s locked!” “It can’t be!” “You try then!” April pulls at the handle too. It turns, but will not open. “We’ll both try,” suggests April. Nodding her head, Verna puts her hands back on the handle to join April’s. “On the count of three,” says April. “Right.” “One, two…” The door handle suddenly becomes red hot, burning the girls’ hands. They both yelp in synchronised pain, falling away from the door and crashing against the wall of the narrow corridor. Slumping to the floor, they both stare at the door. Another scream comes from Jessica on the other side. Then the sound of twisting metal reaches their ears. Finally, the building of the school itself begins to shake. Now it’s Verna and April’s time to scream. Then, as quickly as it started, it stops. Silence. The two girl’s look at each other as they slowly get to their feet. Just as April’s about to say something, the boiler room door swings gently open. Both girls whimper. Neither is now as tough as they first thought, as they gaze through the open doorway and into the darkness beyond. Verna chances a whisper into the gloom before her. “Jessica?” Even with just the light of the moon shining through the high window on the boiler room wall, both girls realise one thing. Jessica has gone. Their eyes settle on the furnace. The small arc door is now half open. As they stare at it, it slams shut on its own. The girls run from the room, from the school and by the time they get home, they are both paralysed in fear.

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CHAPTER TWO

Kitty Bava is confused.
It 2.33pm and she’s sitting waiting for her maths lesson to end. But it’s not the maths that confuses her. As Kitty glances over at the empty desk beside her; it’s the thought of it being unoccupied that causes her concern. It’s not like Jessica to take a day off school. The girl was almost as smart as Kitty and enjoyed being in class, unlike so many other children. Kitty had been best friends with Jessica for as long as she could remember. From the first day they saw each other, they just hit it off straight away. Not that Kitty found it hard to make friends, far from it. Everybody loved Kitty. She had a winning smile and a wonderful sense of fun. Kitty was the one who chose her friends, they didn’t choose her. Kitty could somehow tell who was good and who was bad. She knew from the get-go that Jessica was very good and a friendship was born. But why wasn’t she in class today? The question continued to tug at her thought process for the rest of the class, resulting in her not being able to finish the test infront of her. Not to worry, thinks Kitty. I’ll get top marks next week. The bell finally goes, releasing the youngsters from their seats like dogs from the starting gate. Kitty, being the only one to leave the room with a little dignity and at a regular pace. Friday or not, she’d rather get home safe than get involved in the shoving and pushing the others seem to go through to get out the door. As Kitty approaches the front gate of the school, a familiar face greets her. Sara Bava picks up her daughter and hugs her to her chest. “And how was your day? Asks Sara. “Did you learn much?” “Not enough,” smirks Kitty, “I have to come back on Monday!” Sara chuckles and puts Kitty back on her feet. “I’m surprised you can keep a sense of humour after a week of school.” “I like school!” “Well I hate Uni, so come on, I’ve had a bad day even if you haven’t!”

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Sara forges anger and takes her daughter by the hand as they walk towards the car. Kitty looks up at her mum and giggles to herself. “I know what you need, mummy.” Sara looks down to Kitty, just as they reach the car. “And what would that be?” “Three letters.”

Sara unlocks the door of the red Mini with a bewildered look on her face. “Three letters?” Kitty grins, as she says, “K…F…C!” then bursts out laughing. “Do I need that, or do you?” asks her mother, with the bewilderment being replaced by a smile. “We both do, it’s been a tough week… but you’re paying.” Sara opens the door of the Mini and playfully pushes Kitty into the passenger seat. “Get in there and shut up.” Kitty laughs and settles into the seat as her mother closes the door. Sara gets into the drivers’ seat and watches her daughter put her seatbelt on. Once the task is finished, Kitty looks over to her mum. Sara raises an eyebrow at Kitty and says, “Up or down?” “Pardon?” says Kitty, giving her mum a confused look. Sara point to the roof of the car. Kitty instantly understand and shout, “Down, it’s a lovely day,” then bursts out laughing. Sara grins at her daughter and pushes a button on the dashboard of the car, causing a humming sound to come from the roof of the car, as the vinyl of the convertible Mini begins to slowly slide backwards in an arc, away from the top of the windscreen. Kitty watches in glee as the roof of the car disappears into the rear of the vehicle and lets the sun beat down on them both. “Are we set?” asks Sara. “That depends..?” “… K.F.C it is.” Kitty lets out a whoop of joy as Sara pulls the Mini away from the curb.

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CHAPTER THREE

The sky is dark.
Kitty sits at a small table in her bedroom and tries to finish off her homework, but her mind begins to wander back to the mystery of why Jessica wasn’t at school. After coming home from the fast food joint, Kitty had voiced her worry about Jessica to her mum. Sara had told her not to worry so much. The girl probably just didn’t feel well and her mum had let her take the day off. But Kitty was not convinced. Something wasn’t right. Kitty begins to hatch a plan. A plan to find out where her best little friend Jessica was. Her mum enters the room at 8.30pm. “Right you, time for bed.” “OK.” Kitty closes her homework book, and with her pyjamas already on, pads over to her bed in bare feet. As Sara begins to tuck her in, she notices the concern on her daughters face. “Kitty, don’t worry about Jessica,” she says as she brushes a strand of hair off her little girl’s forehead, “I’m sure she’ll be back at school on Monday. Just wait and see.” “I know, mummy,” sighs Kitty, faking a stretch and a yawn. “I just worry too much sometimes.” Sara smiles down on her. “That’s allowed.” She bends down and kisses Kitty on the cheek. “Sweet dreams, I love you.” “Love you too, mummy.” Sara stands and makes her way back to the door. Leaving it open by a couple of inches, she blows Kitty a final kiss and is gone. Kitty lays wide awake, staring at the ceiling of her bedroom. With her plan now mapped out in her head, all she has to do is just stay awake.

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Kitty reaches under her bed and grabs her Gameboy. With the volume turned down low, she begins to play. Super Mario’s never served a better purpose. When the glow-in-the-dark hands of her pink watch tell Kitty its 11.30pm, she turns the Gameboy off and nervously gets out of bed. Keeping her feet bare, she looks through the crack in the door. The rest of the house seems quiet. She heard her mum go to bed a half hour ago.

Kitty pushes open the bedroom door that little further, praying that it doesn’t squeak. It doesn’t. Ahead of her is the staircase. At the bottom of the staircase, on a small table, is the telephone. The telephone is Kitty’s goal. As quietly as she possibly can, Kitty begins to descend the stairs. Even halfway down, she thanks the Lord in her head for the thick carpeting and the lack of creaking floorboards. Once at the bottom, Kitty casts a worried look over her shoulder at the top of the stairs, expecting her mum to be standing there with her hands on her hips and a frown on her forehead. No such sight awaits her. Kitty smiles and turns back to the table. Beside the phone is an address book. She flicks it open to the J’s. With her index finger, she seeks out Jessica’s mum’s number. The moment of truth. Lifting up the receiver and with trembling fingers, Kitty begins to punch in the numbers that should connect her to an answer solving the puzzle of her missing friend. The phone is answered at the other end before the second ring, by a woman’s voice which sounds strained in panic. “Jessica!?” “No, it’s Kitty,” she says in a quiet voice, “Kitty Bava, Jessica’s friend. Is she there?” “Kitty? Kitty, have you seen Jessica? Do you know where my baby is?!” The woman’s voice is now close to hysteria. “No, Mrs Heywood. That’s why I was calling you. She wasn’t in school today and I was worried,” replies Kitty. “Kitty, did you see Jessica last night?” “No, we didn’t play last night!” “She said she was meeting some new friends,” Mrs Heywood quickly explains, “But I thought you would’ve be there Kitty, even if she didn’t mention you.” Kitty thinks really hard for a second. “Did Jessica say a name, Mrs Heywood?” “Erm, I think she did… Verna?” guesses the worried mother. Kitty shrivels inside, but doesn’t let the acknowledgement show in her voice. “Mmm, not too sure about that.”

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“Kitty, I’m sorry but I’m really going to have to go. Jessica could be trying to call me.” Mrs Heywood’s voice begins to crack just before she hangs-up the phone on the other end. Kitty stares at the dead receiver in her hand for a second, then replaces it in the cradle. Hard lines grace her face, as a brand new plan begins to hatch within her. Why would Jessica go with Verna? If Verna was there, you can bet April was too. And it was common knowledge what kids had to do if they wanted to play with the big girls.

The boiler room! Oh no! Kitty jerks her head back in the direction of the top of the dark stairs. She has given herself two choices. Go back to bed? Find Jessica? Bed isn’t an option. She could never sleep thinking that her best little friend could be, at this very moment, in the bowels of the great boiler. With her decision made, Kitty now has to make another phone call. She picks up the receiver and dials again. This time the phone takes longer to be answered. But when it does, Kitty smiles at the sound of the voice on the other end. “It’s me,” says Kitty, “Remember you said if I even need you for anything? Well, I need you now.” “Princess, you can count on me,” replies the voice. After explaining the problem, Kitty hangs-up the phone and begins to prepare. Her first task is getting dressed. Going back up stairs to get her clothes is something she doesn’t want to do. The slightest noise could wake her mum. Kitty dashes through to the kitchen, tugs open a pantry door and finds a laundry bag. Although the clothes inside are dirty, they’ve only been worn once and aren’t exactly disgusting, so she pulls out an old pair of jeans, socks and t-shirt. Once dressed, Kitty finds the pair of trainers beside the couch she kicked off earlier in the evening. Thankfully, her mum hadn’t bothered to tidy them away. Finally, she grabs her denim jacket off a coat hook beside the front door and swoops the door keys off the phone table. Now, Kitty’s ready. As she unlocks the door, Kitty takes a last look up the stairs, thinking about her mummy. She’s going to be really mad when she finds out what her daughters up to, but this is just something Kitty has to do. For Jessica. Her best little friend.

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Kitty leaves the house, closing the door as quietly as she can behind her.

CHAPTER FOUR

The coldness of night seems to seep through Kitty’s clothes.

As she gets to the end of the driveway, passed the Mini, Kitty gives a last look back at the house. With her mother’s bedroom window still in darkness, Kitty smiles to herself. Success. Kitty tucks her head down and begins to run in the direction of the school. She realises as she runs that she’s never been out at this time of night. With it approaching midnight, Kitty feels a weird kind of excited feeling, which is also mixed with fear. Fear of not knowing what awaits her. And the excitement of taking matters into her own hands. Kitty veers off the pavement, over a fence and into a field. This is a short-cut which she normally takes to school. So why make a change tonight? But once halfway through the field, Kitty realises why she should’ve made a change. Straight infront of her, the exact way she has to go; Kitty sees a large dark shape. She stops in her tracks. Fear beginning to climb up her back. After standing hesitantly from a minute or two, Kitty begins to venture slowly forward again. Scrunching up her eyes, she tries to penetrate the darkness and identify the black shape in the distance. Kitty sees that it does seem to be moving, but not in any direction and more to the point, not towards her, but moving all the same. Like a very large rat stuck in a trap, it seems to be struggling with something.

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Kitty takes a deep breath and starts walking more positively towards the mysterious shape, knowing she can always rely on her fast feet if it comes to that. The closer Kitty gets, the more fear seems to escape from her little body, as she begins to realise that the monster she at first thought was infront of her starts to get less frightening. With each new step, the beast shrinks in size and as her eyes adjusts to the moonlight; Kitty sees a black dog before her. Kitty lets out a sigh of relief, releasing the last of the fear from her overactive imagination. But then, the dark does that to everyone, doesn’t it? Kitty guesses so and begins to feel more concerned for the dog, rather than afraid of it.

She notices that the struggling she saw from the distance is being caused by the dog’s paw, which seems to be entangled in some of the loose barbs of the barbed wire fence. Kitty could quite easily ignore the dog and continue on her mission to the school and hopefully save Jessica, but the dog seems in some distress and Kitty wouldn’t feel right leaving the animal to suffer. As Kitty nears the dog for a closer look, it begins to growl at her. “I’m only trying to help you, stupid doggy,” mumbles Kitty. She puts her hand out to the mutt, to let it smell her scent. Kitty’d read before that dogs’ likes to know who it’s meeting by smell, before you touch it. The dog takes a nervous sniff of Kitty’s palm and then gives it a lick. “Good dog.” Says Kitty. “See, you don’t need to be scared of me.” The black dog seems to understand her words. It looks up into her eyes and whimpers, then looks back down to its trapped paw. “I’ll take care of you, don’t worry.” Kitty says as she sets to work on the paw. She carefully unwinds the wire from the dog’s foot. It quietly yelps once, but for the most part waits patiently for its new friend to free it from the barb. As Kitty gets the last of the wire off the paw, she stands up and tosses it away. “There,” she says. “Good as new!” The dog barks in happiness and tries to jump up on her. “Get down, silly doggy!” giggles Kitty. Kitty gives it a quick pat on the head. “I’ve got to go,” she says to the dog, “but you owe me one. Bye-bye doggy.” Kitty turns from the happy black dog and carefully as possible gets herself through the fence (its a lot easier in daylight) she then stands on the grassy verge of the road that should lead her to school. The rest of the journey to Kitty’s place of education is uneventful and safe, which is fine with Kitty. For all she knows there could be enough adventure when she actually gets to school! As the weather begins to get even colder, Kitty takes a look at her watch. It’s 12.01am. A minute past the witching hour.

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The witching hour. Why did I have to think that?! To take her mind off the cold, and witches, Kitty begins to run again. As fast as she can. With her head down and her arms pumping for all they’re worth, she soon forgets about the cold. By the time Kitty rounds the corner that leads her to the school; she has a film of sweat on her forehead. She slows to a steady jog as the building comes into sight. The light grey granite school is masked in darkness, almost as if trying to hide in the cover of night. The four storey building towers above Kitty as she makes her way into the playground area. Kitty makes a beeline for the front entrance she would normally use during the day for getting into school.

A large concrete fountain graces the front of the school. The stone spout in the middle would normally spry water into the air during the day, but at night the pressures been turned off. The only water to remain is in the base of the large welllike structure. Kitty gives it only a passing glance as she makes her way to the wide granite staircase of ten easy steps, which end at the large wooden double doors of the school. Making her way to the top of the steps, Kitty stares at the doors before her. Could Jessica really be in here? Or had she made a bad mistake coming here on her own. Or would Billy get her? Stop it! Kitty grabs the handle and turns. Suddenly, Kitty is bathed in bright lights and the sound of a roar meets her ears.

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CHAPTER FIVE

Kitty is frozen in fear.
As the mysterious light still shines on her, Kitty just continues to stare at the door infront of her. Hand still on the handle. The roar dies down to a steady purr, but the lights are still solely focused on her and her alone. It was simple. Someone had caught her. Or something! All Kitty can do, is wait for the outcome and pray she can deal with it. Then she hears, what sounds like a door slamming shut. Then footsteps. Footsteps, coming in her direction. Kitty realises right then, that the anticipation of fear is a lot scarier than fear itself. All fear is, is the unknown. And that’s exactly what’s walking up behind her. The unknown. Suddenly, the unknown, has a voice. “What do you think you’re doing, young lady!?” Confusion clouds Kitty’s fear, which is instantly replaced with relief. “Mummy?”

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Kitty spins round. Standing at the bottom of the stone steps is Sara. Behind her mother, is the red Mini, with the headlights on full-beam and the engine purring. “Kitty, what are you playing at?” Sara persists. “I was just…” “How very dare you sneak out of the house at this time of night!” says Sara, cutting off her daughters explanation. Kitty tries again. “Mummy, I need to find Jessica!” pleads Kitty. “What you need to do, is get yourself in that car and get yourself to bed!” “NO!” Sara hesitates for a moment, taken aback by the resistance in her daughters tone. “What did you say?” “No, mummy,” says Kitty, now close to tears. “We have to help Jessica!” “Help her? Kitty, she’ll be home in bed.” Sara tries to reason with her.

“She’s not. I called.” Kitty now begins to cry freely. “Something bad's happen to her, I know it!” “You called? You called who?” enquires Sara. “Jessica’s mum,” Kitty manages between her sobs. “She’s more worried than I am!” “But why would you think she’s still in school?” “Mummy, she’s in the boiler room.” Sara stiffens. Kitty isn’t slow to notice. “The stories about the boiler room are true, aren’t they?” “Don’t be ridiculous,” snaps Sara, “It’s just a story to scare children.” “Then why are you scared?” The question hangs in the air. Sara decides to answer the question with another question. “Why would you think I’m scared?” “You’re gritting your teeth,” says Kitty. “You always do that when you’re nervous. And being nervous is the same as being scared.” “Rubbish, get into the car, you’ve got school tomorrow!” “No, mummy.” Kitty fixes her mum in an unflinching gaze. “I’ve got school now! But I need you to help me to help Jessica… please!” The last thing Sara’s in the mood for is a tantrum from her daughter. Realising that the chances of them finding a way into the school, in the first place will prove fruitless, she decides to go along with it. For the moment. “OK,” says Sara. “You find us a way in and we’ll have a quick look to prove to you Jessica isn’t here.” “Deal.” Kitty turns back to the door she was about to try before her mother showed up, scaring her half to death. Gripping the handle, Kitty tries it. The door opens.

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Sara’s face drops. Oh no! Kitty turns back to her mother. “See, you just have to have faith.” She gives Sara a sweet smile and disappears inside. “No, you don’t,” blurts Sara, grabbing her daughter and pulling her aside. “But, mummy! You said you’d help!” “I am!” replies Sara, “But I’m going first. You just hold my hand and don’t let go, understand?” “I understand,” smiles Kitty up to her mum. “What you smiling at?” “Nothing. You’re just braver than I thought.” Sara doesn’t answer. She just looks through the open door and into the darkness of the school beyond. Sara looks back down to her daughter. “We’ll see.” They enter the school, closing the door behind them.

CHAPTER SIX

In the darkness of the school, Kitty and Sara stand silent.
“Which way?” whispers Sara, keeping her voice low as if in fear of someone overhearing them. But who? Kitty narrows her eyes in the gloom and looks along the corridor. “Everything looks different in the dark,” says Kitty, “but I think if we go to the end of this corridor and turn right, we should find the stairs to take us down to the basement.” Sara sighs. “The basement? Right… Great!” “I thought you weren’t scared?” “I’m not scared, it just seems like a long way to walk, that’s all.” Lies Sara. Kitty squeezes her mum’s hand. “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” Kitty also whispers, “Just stick with me, this is my turf now!” Kitty casts her mum a wicked smile and Sara can’t help but chuckle. With Kitty leading the way, they begin to walk along the dark corridor. Every classroom door they pass has frosted glass on the upper section. Kitty and Sara both secretly imagine a blurred figure or face appearing behind each one, but neither of them says a word and tries to push the thought to the back of their minds.

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The school itself is in complete silence. The only sound that can be heard is the soft click of the heels on Sara’s boots and the occasional squeak from Kitty’s trainers on the hard polished floor. Other than that, the only other sounds are odd groans and strains from the build itself. “What are those noises?” Kitty nervously asks her mum. “It’s nothing to worry about.” Replies Sara. “It’s just the building settling.” “What does that mean?” Sara seems to brighten up, realising that talking’s making the butterflies in her stomach fade a little. “Some buildings make noises at night while they settle into their foundations. It’s like when a tree groans and creaks against a strong wind.” Sara explains. Kitty gives her mum’s reply some thought as they continue to walk along the dark corridor, then speaks her doubt. “But mummy, it’s not windy outside at all.” “But I’m still right, Kitty.” “Why?” “Because I’m your mum, now shut up!” Sara smirks down at her daughter. Kitty looks back along the corridor and giggles to herself.

They reach the end of the corridor, and without saying a word, they both turn right. The last door on the left is marked, ‘Private.’ “This is it,” says Kitty as she looks up at her mum. Sara stares at the door, realising she does not want to enter beyond this point. “Do you really think that Jessica’s down there, Kitty?” Sara tries to reason. “The story of Billy isn’t true, you know.” Kitty looks up at her mum with a serious face and asks one question. “If it isn’t true, how do you know his name?” Sara flusters. “You must’ve mentioned it!” “I’ve never said his name out loud before.” Admits Kitty. After some thought, she then adds. “He used to scare you too when you used to go to this school, didn’t he?” Sara just looks down at her daughter, but has no reply to the question. But Kitty has her answer all the same. “I thought so,” says Kitty, with renewed tension in her voice. Sara turns back to the door marked ‘Private.’ She now has determination etched into her face. “Right,” she says, “lets do this.” Sara grabs the handle of the door and pushes. It swings open on its hinges to reveal a very dark staircase that seems to descend into complete pitch blackness. Mother and daughter stare down into it, both now wishing they’d stayed in bed. With the lights on. Kitty is the first one to make a move, tugging her mother by the hand to follow her. “We get Jessica, we get out, we go home. Simple.” She says, trying to keep her voice steady.

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They both cross the threshold of the door and disappear down the stairs. The darkness swallowing them as they go. Neither of them had noticed that the groans from the building were getting louder.

CHAPTER SEVEN

A dark figure of a man stands at the gates to the playground of the school.

He scans the area infront of him with determined eyes, trying to seek out the slightest noise from the building before him. Slowly, he walks into the playground, his shoes making hardly a sound as he treads over the hard tarmac. As he ventures towards the school, he glances up at the moon shining down on him and smiles at the silence that night brings. Passing a play area with swings and a see-saw, the dark stranger finds himself rounding a corner and approaching the front of the school. Ignoring the fountain, he makes his way straight for the convertible red Mini. The roof of the vehicle’s been put back into place to keep out the chill of the night, but the dark man tries the door handle anyway. Locked. He then cups his hand to the glass of the drivers’ window and bends down, peering into the car. Standing back up straight, the man smiles.

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He has found who he’s looking for. He makes his way up the stone steps of the school, heading for the large wooden double doors.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Darkness surrounds mother and daughter.

Still holding hands, Kitty and Sara find themselves at the bottom of the staircase. “I’m not sure which way it is now.” whispers Kitty. “Well,” mutters Sara, “If it’s going to speed things up, I do. It’s this way.” Sara guides Kitty round a corner and towards a red door. “How do you know?” asks Kitty as they approach the door. “We used to dare each other to come down here when I was little.” Admits Sara. Kitty looks up at her mum in surprise. “Did you ever say the words infront of the…” “No!” snaps Sara, cutting off her daughters question. “And neither will you.” “We may have to, to try and get Jessica back.” Sara mumbles to herself. “I sincerely hope not.” The red door now looms before them. They can just make out in the darkness a simple plaque in the middle of it which says, Boiler Room. Sara and Kitty give each other a final brave smile.

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“You ready?” asks Sara. Kitty takes a deep breath, then exhales loudly. “As I’ll ever be.” Then adds, “Thanks for helping me, mummy.” “Yeah, well, just remember this the next time you complain when I try to get you to finish a healthy meal.” Sara grins. “You owe me one.” “I’ll remember. I just hope you don’t!” chuckles Kitty. Her face then turns sombre as she focuses on the door again. “Right, lets do it.” Sara nods in agreement and grabs the handle. Turning it gently, the door swings open to reveal the boiler room, which is only lit by the light of the moon, shining through a window high on the far wall. Kitty takes a confident step forward, making her way to the top of the metal staircase which would take them down to the cold stone floor of the room, but Sara holds her back by the hand. Kitty looks up, giving her a confused look. “I’ll go first.” She whispers down to her daughter, “but don’t you dare let go of my hand.” “I’m not that silly,” replies Kitty. They begin to descend the stairs, taking them one at a time and very slowly. Almost as if waiting for some surprise attack to come and send them fleeing from the room and home to safety. But no attack comes.

Walking from the bottom step, the only noise that can be heard is some loose stones crunching under their shoes. Other than that, the room is deadly silent. Sooner then they’d hoped, they stand infront of the furnace. Kitty averts her eyes and gazes at the moon shining through the high window. She secretly wishes that she and her mum could somehow float away, through the window and travel up the white rays that it casts down and arrive on the surface of the moon itself. It would be safe there. No more bad things would happen anymore and they could make it their new home and she would only invite the people she liked to come stay with them. She could have all her friends and mummy could have all her friends, and that would be it. No-one else would be allowed. Yes, that would be nice. Only her friends. Friends like Jessica… “…Kitty, are you listening to me?” Kitty is jerked from her thoughts as she looks back to her mum. “Sorry?” “I said, Jessica’s not here.” “But mummy, we haven’t looked yet.” “Kitty, we’re in the boiler room. Unless there’s something wrong with my eyes, Jessica isn’t. Where else can we look?” Kitty doesn’t utter a word in response; she simply turns her gaze to the furnace.

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“Don’t be nuts, she isn’t in there?!” says Sara, with a strange tone coming into her voice. Fear? Kitty looks up at her mother with a hard glare. “I am not nuts, mummy,” states Kitty. “We have to check before we go. We can’t just leave without trying!” Sara regards her daughter in silence for a moment, seeing the determination in her little brown eyes. Sara sighs. “Ok.” Sara raises her free hand to open the furnace door, but Kitty stops her. “No.” “What?” Kitty gives her mum a sad smile. “I’m going first this time. For Jessica.” Sara can see no point in arguing. Besides, she’s standing right by Kitty should something happen. Please don’t let anything happen! Sara gives Kitty an approving nod. Kitty reaches a hand up to the small arc door and slowly begins to open it. The metal hinge lets out a loud squeal, momentarily breaking the silence and making both mother and daughter cringe. “Sorry,” mutters Kitty. Taking her hand away, they both now stare at the opening of the furnace and at the insides of the contraption itself. Other than some burnt ashes, the furnace is empty. Much to the relief of both of them. “Can we go home now?” asks Sara, with a nervous grin on her face.

Kitty is lost in deep thought as she stares at the furnace. Jessica has to be here. Has to be. Kitty knows what she must do. Something she herself can’t believe she’s about to do. But she’s going to do it anyway. “Billy don’t burn…” Sara jerks her head towards her daughter in disbelief. “Kitty, don’t you dare say another word!” barks Sara. “We’ve tried to find Jessica, she’s not here!” “…Billy don’t burn.” “That’s it, young lady, you’re going home, right now!” “But mummy, it’s the only way to be sure!” “No,” counters Sara, “There’s another way, and it’s this way!” Sara starts to pull Kitty by the hand away from the furnace door. Before Kitty leaves the machine behind, she blurts out a final time, “Billy don’t…” Sara spins round in lightning speed and jams her hand over Kitty’s mouth, preventing her from saying the final word. For the third time.

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Mother and daughter lock eyes. Sara is about to bawl out Kitty, when she sees the sadness and passion in the little girls gaze at what she’s trying to achieve. For a second, Sara is lost herself, in a moment of madness. Kitty is right, she realises. She gives her daughter a gentle smile, then turns to face the furnace. All Sara utters is one word. “…Burn.” They both fall silent as they gaze at the furnace. Sara, in interior shock at the word she just said. Even the groaning of the building they were both subconsciously hearing had ceased. “Mummy, what did you say that for?” whispers Kitty, without taking her eyes from the heating device. “Well, if I didn’t say it, you were going to.” Again, they just stare at the furnace. Waiting. Waiting for something to happen that could chill them to the bone. After a few moments, they realise that the chill is not going to come. Yet. “Why hasn’t anything happened?” Kitty says, breaking the silence. “I think we should be thankful nothing’s happened, don’t you?” “Mummy?” “What?” “Remind me what happens when Billy’s eaten enough fear.” “The next person to say the words…” Sara stops what she’s saying, knowing how the sentence ends. Kitty finishes it for her none the less.

“…Sets Billy free, to seek revenge on anyone who stands in his path.” Before Sara can respond, a loud shriek of demonic laughter vibrates round the boiler room. Kitty hugs her mother tight as those chills they were both expecting make their appearance. “Oh, god no…” mutters Sara. Kitty unburies her face from her mum’s chest and whispers up to her. “We’ve done a very bad thing, haven’t we?” Sara’s about the answer, when the furnace bursts into life. Flames blaze from where only a moment ago was only ashes. They lick outside of the small arc door, almost trying to make a grab for mother and daughter. “Run!” shouts Sara, tugging Kitty towards the metal stairs. Kitty doesn’t have to be told twice. They race up the staircase, taking them two at a time. At the top, Sara throws open the boiler room door and out, slamming it closed behind them. But the door doesn’t fit back into the opening. Instead, it simply explodes, showering the narrow corridor with

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burning wood splinters and fire, causing Kitty to scream in shock as the heat wave flows over her and Sara. “Faster mummy!” yelps Kitty over the noise of the crackling flames. Sara doesn’t reply, she just pours on as much speed as possible and tightens her grip on Kitty’s hand. They find the stairway that should lead them back into the public area of the school and take them quicker than the last. As they race nearer the door at the top of the stairs, Sara has the strangest thought pop into her head. What if the staircase never ends?! As a child herself, Sara used to be plagued by nightmares of monsters chasing her up flights of stairs towards a door. A door that would lead her to salvation. But the only problem was, the staircase was never ending. Every time Sara would dash up another step, one would automatically be added to the top of the staircase, making it so she would never reach the door at the top. And never escape the anonymous fiend which would pursue her. What if that reoccurring childhood dream was infact a sign; preparing her for this very night? The more it forms in Sara’s mind, the surer she is it’s going to happen. Until she slams the palm of her hand onto the door in question, thrusting it open and leading both mother and child to relative safety. For now. Once back in the corridor, neither of them stop running. The door slams closed behind Kitty, as they burn the rubber on the soles of their shoes in their desperate bid for the front double doors of the school. But as Sara nears the door, she notices the handle of it moving from the other side.

She stops dead in her tracks, also jerking Kitty to a halt. She gives her mother a confused and scared look. “What you doing, mummy?” Kitty pleads. Sara doesn’t take her eyes from the door infront of them. No more than twenty feet away. “Look!” Kitty follows her mum’s line of vision and sees the moving handle. “Oh no,” she whimpers. “Do you think it’s Billy?” Sara looks back at the door they just left behind. The one she expects Billy to come charging through any minute. But he doesn’t. The school is now silent again, but for the noise of the main school door handle turning. Sara turns her attention back to the door. Kitty also stares at it. Both trying to figure out who’s on the other side. With the door they’ve left behind now silent, it could only be one person. Billy!

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“Mummy, what do we do?!” asks Kitty. Sara, thinks for a moment and is about to answer, when the wooden double doors are kicked from the other side with such force that they fly open to reveal a man standing in the open doorway. Sara and Kitty sink to their knees in fear. The man stands silhouetted by the moonlight. His identity shrouded in darkness. Kitty, once again, buries her head in her mum’s chest. Sara glares at the darkened figure, who she knows, without seeing his eyes, is glaring right back at her. Then the figure speaks.

CHAPTER NINE

Kitty jerks her head back out of her mum’s chest. “Jack?!” “In the flesh.” Replies the dark shape, as he walks further into the corridor, away from the open doorway. Kitty gets up and runs to him. Jack stops and awaits her approach.

Did someone order a big best friend?”

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Dressed in a black leather jacket, t-shirt, jeans and trainers, Jack grins as Kitty jumps into his arms and he holds her tight. Jack had been a friend of the two girl family even since he’d taken a weekend trip to London three years ago. He’d just step off The London Eye, when he’d seen a little girl in distress. The little girl in question was Kitty. She was only five years old back then, and had dropped one of her favourite dolls into the Thames River. Sara didn’t know what to do, so Jack had managed to get himself down onto the bank of the river, and using his belt, had been able to reach the doll and pull it back to shore. He instantly became a hero in Kitty’s eyes and they became best little and big friend right there and then. Sara then asked him to join them to grab a burger and a coffee and the rest was history. Even though Jack lived in Scotland, he and Sara texted each other every day and he spoke to Kitty on the phone as often as possible. He loved her like she was his own daughter and knew she was the most special thing in his life, and Sara came right behind her. “What, did you think I wouldn’t come?” “Course I knew you’d come,” responds Kitty, “and your timing couldn’t be better!” “Really?” While still holding Kitty, Jack makes his way along to where Sara is just beginning to get to her feet. “Have you found Jessica yet?” continues Jack, as he puts Kitty back into her feet by her mother. Sara hugs Jack and whispers into his ear, “What’re you doing here?!” Before Jack can answer, Kitty cuts in. “He’s helping us find Jessica.” “That’s exactly right,” Jack says, keeping his eyes on Sara. “But, how did you…?” Again, Kitty cuts in to answer her mother’s question. “I called him.” Sara looks down at her daughter. “I think someone should start helping out with the phone bill, don’t you?” Kitty chuckles to herself. “Then it looks like I’m going to need a raise in pocket money, doesn’t it?”

Jack looks around the corridor of the school, then back to Sara and Kitty. “It’s a little late for class, isn’t it?” Kitty replies, “Jessica’s in the boiler room!” “What’s she doing in there?” asks Jack. “Long story.” Says Sara. “Then let’s go get her!” Jack begins to walk further along the corridor, but Sara grabs his arm. “We’ve already been down,” whispers Sara, “She’s not there.” “Then who is?” Jack enquires. Before either Sara or Kitty can answer, the door at the end of the corridor explodes into the hallway. All three of them stand dumbfounded, staring at the ball of flames and wood splinters as they litter the polished floor of the school.

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Jack’s the first to break the spell of their silence. “Ok, I’m guessing that ain’t a good thing!” “It’s Billy,” squeaks Kitty, as her eyes never leave the sight before them. “He’s…” Before Kitty can finish, a figure appears through the flaming doorway. The figure itself is also in flames. Jack’s mesmerised and speaks in a faraway voice. “That’s gotta hurt.” “Oh my god!” is all Sara can utter. “Maybe I should’ve stayed in bed after all,” Kitty mutters to herself. The figure of fire is the same size of an average man, but the flames that blister and crackle from him give him the appearance of someone a lot larger. Kitty is the first one to burst into action. “This way!” Kitty says, as she grabs both her mother and Jack by the hand. Kitty pulls them in the direction of the nearest classroom door and kicks at it, thrusting it open. The three of them dash in, closing it as quietly as possible behind them. Inside the classroom, Kitty, Sara and Jack stand with their backs to the door. All of them quietly gulping in some air. “Now what?” Jack whispers. Kitty looks up at him and shrugs her shoulders. “I just thought getting out of the corridor was a good enough start. I didn’t think much further ahead than that.” “Fair enough.” Jack then notices the frosted glass panel on the door they’re against. “Get away from the door!” Sara and Kitty look at him, confused. “He’ll see us through the glass!” says Jack, nodding at the transparent frosting. “Come on, quickly!” Jack grabs them both by the hand and leads them further into the classroom. Making their way to the far corner, they huddle down and keep their eyes on the frosted glass. Waiting for anything to pass in the corridor beyond. They don’t have to wait long.

The dull corridor behind the frosted glass begins to brighten, as the fiery figure of Billy walks past the door. Then dulls again. Kitty looks to Sara, then Jack. “Why did he just walk past without coming in to get us?” Jack gives her a confused look. “Would you like me to go call him back?!” Kitty scowls at him. “Don’t get funny with me, Mister!” Jack can’t help but smile. “If you agree to stop asking silly questions, I won’t get funny with you, deal?” “Deal,” smirks Kitty. Sara decides to ask the same silly question. “But why did he walk past? He must know we’re in here!”

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“We don’t know if he saw us come in here,” replies Jack. “Who knows? Everybody makes mistakes. Maybe he just did!” Jack pushes himself up to his feet. Kitty shoots up a hand, grabbing the back pocket of his jeans. “Where you going?” “I’m just going to check,” whispers Jack. “If he’s gone, maybe we’ll have time to get out the front door.” Kitty has only one question. “What about Jessica?” “We’ll come back for her.” “With a fire extinguisher!” adds Sara. “Nice one!” says Jack, pointing at Sara. Jack takes Kitty’s hand from his back pocket and holds it. “Princess, I’m just going to look, ok?” “Be careful,” is all Kitty says as she gazes up at him. “Nothing’s going to happen to me,” replies Jack, “but more to the point, nothing’s going to happen to you or your mum. Not on my watch.” Jack grins down at Kitty and tries to wink at Sara, but he gets it wrong and blinks instead. “What was that supposed to be,” chuckles Sara. “Shut it, div,” mumbles Jack, as he turns to face the door. Slowly, he begins to walk to the front of the classroom. The moon shines through the window that spans the whole length of the wall, casting milk-white light into the gloom of the room. Jack steps on something that quietly snaps under his foot. Cringing, he stops dead and turns to face Kitty and Sara, his expression saying nothing more than, ‘sorry.’ Lifting his trainer, Jack sees a disregarded pencil. Probably drop by a child during their lesson. In a time when the school was safe? Jack had always been told when he was little that day and night was the same thing, only that one had less light than the other, and monsters never existed in reality. Only in the imagination of the mind. Tonight, someone had changed the rules on him. And Jack was still trying to get to grips with it. Turning away from mother and daughter, Jack now finds himself facing the frosted glass door. He takes a slow steadying breath and grabs a tight hold of the handle.

Closing his eyes, Jack mentally prepares himself for what he may see beyond this door. Don’t think about it! Just do it! Obeying the voice in his head, Jack flings open the door. The corridor is silent. Jack steps out into the hallway and looks left, then right. Nothing. The double wooden doors at the end of the corridor still stand open, from when he made his entrance and the fiery beast appears to be gone.

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Without wasting anymore time, Jack steps back into the classroom, closing the door behind him and makes his way back to Kitty and Sara. “Whatever that was, is gone and the doors are still open,” announces Jack, “We should make our move now!” “D’you promise we’ll come back for Jessica?” asks Kitty. “Princess, I cross my heart and hope to die.” “Stick a needle in your eye?” persists Kitty. “How about I stick one in your mum’s butt,” retorts Jack, “Then we can get outta here even quicker!” “Watch it, Scotsman, or I’ll throw a haggis at you!” responds Sara. Kitty chuckles and then adds. “But you do promise, don’t you?” Jack picks up Kitty in his arms and looks straight into her beautiful brown eyes. “Kitty, have I ever lied to you?” Kitty thinks for a second. “I don’t think so.” “D’you know why?” “Why?” “Cause I’m a good liar!” laughs Jack, as he puts Kitty down again. Kitty just smiles and shakes her head at her big best friend. “You better not lie to me, or there’ll be trouble!” Jack rubs a hand over her long dark hair. “Little dude, I’ll never lie to you, I swear.” “Don’t swear,” replies Kitty, “I’m only eight!” Jack chuckles to himself as he turns to face the door again in the far corner of the room. As he focuses on the exit of the room, he says, “Kitty, I’ll do my best, but if that thing shows up again, my language may raise to the level of an 18 certificate, so you’d better get ready to cover your ears!” “You better not even think about it!” chimes Sara. “Dude, I’ll try.” “Come on, if we’re going to go, let’s go!” Sara urges. Jack turns round at the haste that Sara’s in. “D’you wanna go first?” “Point taken. Whenever you’re ready.” She gives Jack a sweet smile. Jack turns and makes his way to the door, mumbling under his breath, “Women.” “I heard that…!” “…Supposed to, stinky!”

As they walk, Kitty is comforted by the waffle between her mum and big best friend. Until they reach the door. Then all humour is lost and all three stand in silence. Once again, the seriousness of the situation registers in each individual psyche. Whether man, woman or child, they all know what lays on the other side of the door. Danger. Jack grabs the handle again. “Stand back a little.” He whispers to Kitty and Sara. They both take a step back and await Jack’s next move.

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Slowly, he opens the door again, but just a few inches this time. Just enough for him to see that the corridor is still clear and that the monster’s still out of sight. Convinced, he closes the door again and turns to mother and daughter. “Right, it’s clear, here’s the plan…” Suddenly the door’s thrust open from the other side as a fiery hand lunges in and grabs Jack by the collar of his leather jacket. Before he even has a chance to shout in fear, he’s wrenched out the door and it slams closed behind him. The classroom is silent again.

CHAPTER TEN

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“No!” yells Kitty, as she makes a grabs for the handle. Sara snaps out of it, as she pulls her daughter from the door. “I’ll get him, Kitty!” Sara yanks on the handle, but the door will not budge. “Oh my, God!” She tries again, but to no avail. Sara feels for a lock but can’t even find a key-hole. Sara turns and looks around the classroom for inspiration. “What do we do, mummy? We have to save Jack!” demands Kitty. Sara frantically looks at Kitty. “Find something to break the glass! We have to get this door open before its too late!” Kitty races round the room, flipping up all the tops of the desks, trying to find anything she thinks might work in breaking the frosted glass of the door, while Sara continues to try and open the door manually. Beneath her fingers, the handle begins to move. Sara almost shouts in victory. Until the handle turns red hot. Then Sara shouts in pain, lets go of the handle and falls to the floor, blowing on her scorched fingers. Kitty stops what she’s doing. “Mummy, what’s wrong?!” “Don’t touch that handle,” Sara says, as she gets back to her feet. “We have to break that glass, now!” she demands, pointing at the frosted glass window. “I can’t find anything! All the desks are empty!” “Then we use a desk!” barks Sara. Sara marches over to where Kitty stands and grabs the edge of the nearest desk. Kitty tries to help as they drag it closer to the door. The legs of the worktable screech on the floor, but neither of them pays the slightest attention to the noise as their main goal is saving Jack. Once they’re about ten feet from the door, Sara stops and says to Kitty, “Can you lift it?” “It’s a bit heavy for me, mummy, but I’ll try.” “Good girl…” But before they get a chance to even try to heave the table at the frosted glass, the window itself explodes in on them, as Jack comes flying back into the classroom with great force, as he’s flung from the other side.

Sara stands frozen in shock.

Kitty and Sara yelp as they duck down, both covering their head with their hands as razor sharp shards of glass rain down on them. Jack crashes onto the top of the desk, tumbles off and skids along the floor. Coming to a jarring stop as he hits the far wall. He then goes still.

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Kitty and Sara, slowly get to their feet, their eyes never leaving the shattered pain of frosted glass. Alert for the appearance of the flaming figure of Billy, the boiler room monster. An appearance that doesn’t come. Kitty is the first one to jerk her head in the direction of her big best friend, who lays unconscious by the classroom wall. “Mummy, is Jack ok?” Kitty whispers. “He isn’t moving!” Only now does Sara takes her vision from the door. Staring at Jack, she whispers back to her daughter, “I think he’s just knocked out.” They both begins to slowly venture over to the prone figure of their friend. Jack lays facing the wall, his shoulder resting against it. Sara crouches down and gently pulls him onto his back. He flops over lifelessly. “Is he dead?!” blurts Kitty, with a note of helplessness coming into her voice, as she kneels down beside Jack. Sara gazes at Jack. Now looking through the trained eyes of a nurse. Taking hold of his wrist, she feels for a pulse. “He’s not dead.” Says Sara, without taking her eyes from Jack. “So why’s he not awake?” asks Kitty. Sara leaves the question unanswered as she puts the palm of her hand on Jack’s chest, trying to detect the motion it should make while intaking air. Her next statement is more of a realisation out loud, rather than an answer to Kitty’s question. “He’s not breathing!” “No!” hisses Kitty, becoming breathless herself as she starts to panic. “Do something, mummy!” “This sucks!” grumbles Sara. “Kitty, keep your eyes on the door incase that thing comes back.” “Ok, just save Jack!” demands the little girl as she turns her attention back to the broken classroom door, dread now etched into her features. Sara pinches Jack’s nose between her thumb and index finger and tilts his head back a little further to fully open his airways. She then puts two fingers from her other hand into his mouth to check for anything blocking his throat. It’s empty. Sara takes a deep breath, preparing herself to give her best friend mouth to mouth resuscitation. The kiss of life. Weren’t kisses supposed to be fun!?

Jack is like the big brother Sara never had. She’ll do whatever she has to, to save him. Staring into his closed eyes, she slowly begins to lower herself down, her mouth opening to match Jack’s.

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A split second before their lips connect, Jack coughs. Right into Sara’s mouth. Jerking back, Sara shouts, “Oh my god!” Jack thrusts himself into a sitting position, while continuing with the coughing fit. Kitty has turned back round and is happily gazing at her big best friend. “You’re alive!” Sara just stares at him till he finishes coughing and gasping for air. “You ok?” she asks. Jack has a final cough. “I’m guessing that’s a rhetorical question, as I just got beat up by a fiery guy!” retorts Jack. “Being ok, is something that’s looking like being on the bottom of my ‘to do list,’ till we get our butts outta here!” Sara just continues staring at him, tilts her head to the side and waits for a proper answer. “Other than needing a nappy change, I’m peachy.” Jack adds, giving Sara a sarcastic smile. It then turns into a natural smile, as he keeps his eyes on Sara. “What were you trying to do to me, anyway?” “I was trying to save you!” replies Sara. “Mummy was going to give you the kiss of life!” offers Kitty. “Now, that’s scary.” Jack says to Kitty. Kitty chuckles to herself and Sara smacks Jack on the arm. “Hey, what’s that for?!” Jack laughs. “I thought you were in trouble!” “Next time, just gimme a cigarette.” Smirks Jack. “No!” snaps Kitty, “I don’t want you to smoke!” Jack stops laughing and smiles at Kitty. “I’m kidding, princess. Didn’t I tell you I was going to stop?” “Yes.” Responds Kitty. “There you go then.” Kitty grins to herself. “Good.” Jack pushes himself to his feet. “Right, we’re going to have to get out of here.” “Tell us something we don’t know!?” says Kitty. “Any ideas?” Jack asks both girls. “Well, the corridor’s out of the question,” Sara returns. “Ten out of ten for observation, dude.” “You’ll get another smack, if you don’t watch out!” “As long as you don’t try to kiss me again, we’re cool!” Jack retorts. “Muppet.” Is all Sara gives back.

Kitty laughs. From the corridor of the school comes a roar. All humour is lost from the face of man, woman and child.

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Kitty is the first to talk. “I really think its time to go!” “You get my vote.” Mutters Jack. “But where do we go?” asks Sara, with a real note of panic coming into her voice. Kitty turns to the window, a plan hatching in her mind. “We go out the window!” she offers. “We’re on the ground floor, so we’re not exactly going to fall very far.” Jack dashes to the window without saying a word and tries to wrench open one of them. The handle turns, but the window stays closed. Gritting his teeth, he tries even harder to the point where a fart noise escapes from his mouth due to the pressure he’s putting himself through. Finally letting go of the handle, he mumbles, “We may have a problem.” “So I heard,” says Sara. “You ready for that nappy change now?” “The windows stuck.” Jack replies, ignoring Sara’s vain attempt at humour. “We need to find something to break it with.” Mother and daughter look at each other and both say the same thing at the same time “The desk!” “Yes!” gasps Jack, still recovering from his exertions. Sara hurries over to the desk beside the shattered classroom door, never taking her eyes from the broken frosted glass and listening for the approach of the boiler room monster, but she hears nothing. Jack joins her and they drag the desk over to the window. Without saying a word, they take a side each and lift it. As they begin to gently swinging it at the glass, Jack says, “It been a long time since I’ve chucked a desk out a classroom window!” Sara raises a waxed eyebrow. “You threw a desk out of a classroom window?!” “Trust me, it was a bad day. The dog had eaten my homework and the cat had taken a dump in my plimsoles.” Sara shakes her head at her old friend and before Kitty can laugh out loud at Jack’s statement, both mother and Scotsman sling the desk at the window. The noise is deafening. Sara and Jack dash infront of Kitty to protect her from any flying glass as they watch the desk disappear from sight and clatter on the ground outside. Through the broken window, the darkness of night beckons.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN

Jack elbow punches some of the jagged shards of the glass that still remains in the
window frame and then begins to climb out. As he steadies his feet on the lip of the windowsill, Kitty says, “Be careful.” Jack turns his head round and whispers down to her. “Careful’s my middle…” Jack’s trainer slips off the ledge of the window and he goes head first out the framework with a yelp, which is more becoming of a little girl who’s just dropped her ice-cream cone, rather than that of a man of 34 years old. “Oh my!” gasps Kitty, as she dashes to the window and peers over the edge. Sara just rolls her eyes and mumbles under her breath, “Div.” “Are you ok?” Kitty softly says to the figure in the gloom on the stony ground of the playground beneath the window. Jack groans back up to her. “Ok, careful used to be my middle name, but now I’m sure your mother’s got a better one.” Kitty grins to herself as she realises that Jack’s not hurt as she watches him push himself back to his feet. Her face sobers as he looks at her through the broken window. Jack notices the change in her face too. “What’s wrong, princess?” “Why didn’t he take you?” “What?” Jack asks. Kitty concentrates on what she’s saying. “Why didn’t Billy the boiler room monster keep you, instead of giving you back to us?” “Ah,” says Jack, “You mean why did he throw me through a frosted glass partition in a classroom door, crash me off the top of a desk and nearly kill me by slamming me against a wall?” “Exactly!” returns Kitty. “I guess he just didn’t want to hurt me.” Jack replies with a chuckle. “Come on, let’s go.” He holds out his arms for Kitty to grab onto as he helps her through the broken classroom window. Sara holds up Kitty from behind, managing to get her through the window safely and into Jack’s arms. Jack lowers her to the ground. “I think it’s time we got out of here and we’ll come back with the cavalry for Jessica, deal?” he asks Kitty. Kitty thinks about it for a second. “You promise?” “My hearts crossed and I can’t see for the amount of needles that are sticking out of my eyes.” “I think you have to eat a manure pie too!”

“Excuse me?!”

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“I think that’s how the rhyme goes…” Kitty creases her forehead in deep thought, and then recites the rhyme out loud “Cross your heart and hope to die, stick a needle in your eye and eat a cow manure pie! Yip, you have to eat a cow manure pie!” Jack laughs and ruffles Kitty’s hair with his hand. “I think we’ll leave the cow manure pie eating to your mum!” Kitty bursts out laughing as well. Jack looks back up through the broken window at Sara, who’s still in the classroom. Sara isn’t laughing. She’s just staring wide eyed at Jack, with a shocked expression, like a sudden thought has just occurred to her that has terrified Sara to her very soul. “Hey Dude, what’s wrong?” Jack enquires. “I was just kidding about the pie eating. They only make them in Scotland anyway and are quite popular will Glaswegians, but then, they’re full of it anyway!” Sara just continues to stare for a moment, then blurts out, “He didn’t want you!” “Say again?” “That, thing, didn’t want you.” “Which is a good thing,” Jack replies, with a grin coming onto his face. “No,” says Sara vacantly, “He did want you, because you didn’t go to this school…” “… And mummy did and I still do!” murmurs Kitty. Jack looks down to the little girl. Kitty glances up and holds him in a hard stare. “He wants mummy and me!” “Not going to happen, princess.” Says Jack, casting down the same hard stare to reassure his best little friend. “It’s going to take more than a big scary fiery guy to stop me from protecting you and your mum.” Suddenly, another roar comes from the corridor of the school, just outside the shattered classroom door. “Not much more, granted.” Adds Jack. The door then explodes inwards as a torrent of fire enters the room, heading directly for Sara. Sara only has a split second to react to her unplanned predicament of peril. She lunges at the smashed window just as the force of the heat-wave hits her, projecting her further out the window then she’d hoped for. The flames seem to reach out and try to lick at the soles of her departing boots as she sails through the broken window frame and into the night beyond. Jack has already started to jog backwards, his eyes staying on Sara, as if readying himself to catch a football. That’s if football’s came in the form of a flying Sara! “I’ve got ya!” he yells. Sara crashes headlong into Jack and they both crumble to the ground, slamming Jack’s back on the hard concrete. Sara rolls off Jack and looks back at the classroom she’s left behind. Fire now rages out of control.

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Kitty runs over to join them. “Mummy, you ok?” Sara pushes herself to her feet, rubbing her hands on her jeans. “I’m fine.” Sara puts her arm round her daughter as they both look at the burning classroom. “That was a little too close for comfort, mummy.” “I noticed.” Sara says, looking down at Kitty. “You about ready to go home now?” Kitty nods. “Things haven’t gone exactly as I’d planned.” “I noticed that too,” quips Sara, grinning down at Kitty. Kitty smiles back and all she can reply is, “Oops!” Sara chuckles and gives her a kiss on the head. “I’m fine too, by the way!” cuts in Jack. Sara and Kitty turn back round to look at their old friend. He still lies on his back with a look of discomfort on his face. He groans as he pushes himself to his feet. “Dude, I think you put a dent in my sixpack!” “You wish,” replies Sara. Jack joins them as all three watch the burning classroom. “Right,” says Jack, “Since none of us has remembered the marshmallows, I think its time to go. “Yeah…” Sara begins to reply, but something within the flames of the classroom catches her eye. Then they all see it. Hidden amongst the flames, a figure appears. The figure of Billy, the boiler room monster. He stands at the broken window with the flames from his own body mixing with those from the classroom. Even though his features can’t be made out all that clearly, Kitty, Sara and Jack all know he’s glaring straight at them. “Definitely time to go.” Mumbles Kitty. Just as they turn to run, Billy lets out a roar of pure rage and propels a fireball from his hand, just as a child would throw a snowball at a friend. But Billy is no friend. “Move!” shouts Sara, as she pushes both Kitty and Jack out of the way. But Sara forgets to move herself at the same time. The fireball explodes just two feet infront of her. The blast sends her flying backwards into the night air and crashing back down onto the tarmac of the playground. She lands with a yelp and rolls, trying in vain to get to her feet again as quickly as possible, but when she puts her hand on the ground to push herself up, her arm buckles beneath her, making Sara scream in pain. Jack dashes over to help and gets Sara onto her feet and with Kitty for support; they begin to flee. As they run, Sara says what Jack already suspects. “I think my arms broken!” “No!” shouts Kitty. “Don’t worry, Kitty.” Says Jack, “We’ll get to the car, get your mum to hospital and everything’ll be fine, promise.”

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“I’m going to kill that Billy monster!!” rants Kitty. “You and me both, kiddo.” Agrees Jack. They continue round to the front of the school, with Sara being helped by Jack at one side and Kitty on the other. The sight of the vinyl roofed red Mini is the salvation they seek and gives them that extra spurt of speed that their aching bones need. As they arrive at the vehicle, Sara states the obvious. “Who’s going to drive?!” “Gimme the keys!” blurts Jack. “But…” “Now!” Sara fishes the keys out her pocket with her good hand and Jack snatches them from her, his eyes now focusing on the corner of the school, waiting for a familiar fiery figure to appear any moment. Only the darkness teases him with forbidding shadows. Jack barks one final command. “Get in!” Sara hurries round to the passenger side without a word, realising her best friend is now on a mission and any defiance on her part will only slow the process down. Even if he is being a div! Jack opens the drivers’ door, pulls forward the seat and ushers Kitty into the back. She dives in and Jack pushes the seat back into an upright position and gets in himself. Before he has a chance to close the door, he hears Sara squeal from the passengers’ side. Jack doesn’t need to look back to the corner of the school. He already knows the cause of Sara’s squeal. But he does. The flaming figure of Billy stands staring at them. For a fleeting second Jack wanders why the fiery demon from hell hasn’t just came out the front double doors of the building, which still stand wide open. But as he glances at them, he realises why. Billy wants them back inside the school. Without wasting another second, Jack reaches over and unlocks the passenger door, allowing Sara to fling herself into the seat, slamming the door closed behind her and locking it again, quickly. Jack sticks the key into the ignition and turns, bringing the car to life. As he stares out the windscreen, the double wooden doors of the school crash closed on their own accord. Jack, Sara and Kitty look out the Mini’s windows at Billy, still standing motionlessly at the corner of the school. Jack mumbles, “Guess he’s not wanting us back in after all.” “My plan would be to go home, very quickly!” mutters Kitty, her eyes staying on the fiery beast in the distance. “Mine too.” Concurs Sara. Jack glances at Sara. “Remember all those time you’ve promised me a driving lesson?”

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“Yes..?” “Well, it’s time for a crash course!” “Look out!” warns Kitty. Jack and Sara darts their eyes back to Billy. He’s preparing another fireball. “Move!” shouts Sara, yanking the gear-stick into reverse with her good hand. Jack stamps down the accelerator and the car shoots backwards just as Billy lets fly with the ball of flames. It explodes not six feet infront of the car, which causes the nose of the vehicle to actually lift from the ground several inches before bouncing back down again. Kitty sighs a sign of relief as she thought for a worrying moment that the car was going to be toppled. Jack struggles with the steering as the front wheels make contact with the ground again. The Mini is now nudging 40 M.P.H in reverse as Jack wrenches the wheel to the side and jams on the brakes, spinning the car round to face forward and in the same movement Sara thrusts the gear-stick into First, knowing what Jack’s plans are. He takes his foot off the brake and back onto the gas peddle, causing the tyres to spins for precious moments before gaining purchase on the concrete floor of the playground before shooting them forward, towards the front gates of the school, and with a little luck, freedom. Kitty cranes her head round and looks out the back window. “He’s not moving” she shouts. “Well, that’s the good news.” Mutters Jack, as he keeps his attention on his first driving experience. The gates of the school are in sight now as he slams the car into Second gear. With only fifty feet to travel before freedom, Jack chances a sideways grin at Sara. “Looks like we’re gonna make it, dude!” Sara doesn’t take her eyes from the windscreen. “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hat…” Sara’s eyes widen, but its Kitty that voices the vision that her mother sees. “Not good!” shouts the little girl. Jack focuses back on the gates. His heart sinks. The iron gates have burst into flames. No longer are they made of metal. The flames blister and spurt as the Mini races ever closer. With only twenty feet to go, Sara pulls up the handbrake and Jack twists the wheel, sending the car into a skid, turning it away from the fiery exit. Once their course has been changed enough, Sara releases the handbrake again and Jack powers the Mini back towards the forbidding building of the school. “This is nuts!” blurts Sara. “Bud, this is more than nuts!” replies Jack, “This is an amalgamation of everything kernel!” Kitty stares at the back of Jack’s head. “What does that mean?!”

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Jack glances in the rearview mirror and catches Kitty’s eye. “Dictionary,” Is all he says. Jack then slams on the brakes halting the car completely. “What you doing?” demands Sara. Jack just stares out the windscreen and points. “We’re back where we started.” Kitty looks from between the two front seats and sees what Jack means. Once again, they are positioned infront of the closed double doors of the school. “Now what?!” Sara asks worriedly. Kitty turns to look back at the gates of the school. They’ve stopped burning, but the figure of Billy now stands beside them. “He sees us!” yelps Kitty. Jack locks Shu in a determined stare. “He’s outside.” “And?” enquires Sara. “I think we’d better get back inside.” “I’m not getting out this car!” counters Sara. Jack looks back to the double wooden doors of the school which stand at the top of the ten wide stone steps. “Who said anything about getting out the car?” Sara looks back to the double door now too, beginning to realise what Jack’s thinking. “What’re we doing?” asks Kitty from the back seat. Jack catcher her in the rearview again. “Princess, fasten your seatbelt.” It takes no more than a second for the penny to drop for Kitty. “Uh oh.” Is all she utters as she scrambles her hands for the seat restraint. Jack begins to rev the car as he looks over to Sara. “How’s the arm?” Sara half grins and wiggles her fingers. “False alarm, it ain’t broken, just a sprain” “The nights still young,” smirks Jack. Sara’s about to reply, when she sees his expression change and realises he isn’t looking at her anymore, but just past her. She follows his line of vision out her side window and sees Billy preparing another fireball in the distance. “Time to go!” shouts Sara. “Kitty, you buckled up?” checks Jack. “GO!” Is all the confirmation Kitty gives him. Jack stamps his foot down. The Mini takes off like a rocket. The fireball explodes behind them, giving them that extra bit of speed.

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CHAPTER TWELVE

When they reach the bottom of the stairs, they all close their eyes.
The Mini treats the stone steps like a stuntman’s ramp, propelling it into the double doors. The impact is loud. The car smashes through the wood of the doors sending splinters flying and shattering both headlights of the vehicle at the same time as the tyres connect with the polished floor of the school with a rubber squeal. Jack snaps open his eyes and tries to keep the Mini in a straight line, but it’s already off course as it careers off a classroom wall and rebounds over to the other side of the corridor. A wing mirror is wrenched off as the car collides with the other wall. Jack finally loses control and crashes the vehicle into a classroom wall with a jarring stop. “Oops.” Mumbles Jack. Sara turns round in her seat to check on Kitty. Kitty just grins back at her. “Can we do that again?” “Not tonight, dopey.” Replies Sara. Jack notices something in the rearview mirror. The fiery shape of Billy stands at the ruined doors of the school. Even through the flames, Jack can tell that he’s grinning at them. “We move, now!” commands Jack. Sara looks out the back window and sees the danger. She unclasps Kitty from the seatbelt and gets herself out the car quickly, pulling down the seat for Kitty to get out too. Jack scrambles out his side and joins the girls in the middle of the corridor. All three stare at Billy at the door. Billy stares back. Then starts preparing another fireball. Kitty, Sara and Jack don’t wait to see the end result. “This way!” shouts Kitty. She grabs her mother and big best friend by the hand and runs along the corridor, just as Billy let’s loose with the fireball. It lands where they would’ve been standing if Kitty hadn’t pulled them away and explodes beside the Mini, sending the car reeling through the classroom wall, through the classroom itself, out the large window and

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back into the playground, surprisingly landing on its wheels with a grinding of metal not far from the concrete water fountain.

Not one of them have the time or the incentive to look back at the carnage they’ve narrowly escaped, as Kitty continues to tug at Jack and Sara, pulling them round a corner to a staircase. They take the stairs in leaps and bounds. When they get to the third flight Jack mutters, “How far we going?!” “Just one more,” answers Kitty. If Sara had the energy to object she would. But she hasn’t. As they scramble round the corner to face the fourth flight, they all hear the noise of someone else enter the stairwell. Neither of them says a word, but each one of them speeds up that little bit more. As they crash through the door leading onto the fourth floor corridor, they all have imminent dread itched on their features as the approach of Billy is present in their ears. “Kitty, which way?” gasps Sara. Kitty looks up and down the gloomy hallway for a second trying to get her bearings, then snaps, “This way!” as she commences running again. Sara and Jack give chase, both with sweat masking their face. “Wait up, little dude,” pants Jack. Kitty suddenly stops. Jack and Sara catch up to her and notice the pained expression on her face. “I made a mistake!” Kitty says with a little embarrassment in her voice. “We should’ve been on the third floor!” Before anyone can ask why, the fiery sight of Billy appears through the stairway door. “Move!” shouts Jack and pulls both girls into the nearest classroom. Slamming the door behind them, they all go silent and listen. They hear distant footsteps begin to approach. Sara scans the class they’re in and realises it a science room. Beakers and test tubes in their holders line some of the desks and in the centre of each wooden table is the gas tap of a Bunsen burner. Sara pushes herself away from the door, a plan slowly hatching in her exhausted brain. “Hey dude, I’ve got a plan!” Jack gazes at her as she turns one of the burner taps on. Sara half smirks a nervous smirk as the gas begins to hiss out of the nozzle. “We fight fire with fire!” Sara announces. All Jack can do is give her a confused look. “Ok, but how do we get out?!” “The window!” suggests Kitty. Jack dashes over to the window to check the height. He cups his hands to the glass and peers out into the darkness. “No way, it’s far too high.”

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“Then we’re goosed!” proclaims Kitty. Jack’s about to turn away from the window, when something else catches his eye. He smiles as he faces Kitty again. “No, princess, we’re not goosed.”

“No?” “No.” replies Jack. “What’ve you seen?” asks Sara, as she quickly makes her way to the window. Kitty joins them. Jack points down to the playground. “You see what I see?” Kitty and Sara both cups their hands to the glass and see exactly what Jack’s talking about. The water fountain. “You mean..?” Kitty begins. “… We jump into the fountain?!” ends Sara. “The water’s a good couple of feet deep. More than enough to break your fall!” Jack explains. “Erm, you just have to make sure you don’t miss.” He decides to add. Sara turns and looks him straight in the eye. “You had to say that, didn’t you!” “Well, I thought I’d better make things clear to you both,” Jack says as he looks back over to the desk Sara stood at upon entering the room, “Since you’ve left that gas tap on, I figured we’re kind of on a clock here!” “Oh no!” Sara blurts as she makes a move towards the table to shut it off, but Jack grabs her by the arm and gazes deep into her eyes, an unfamiliar look of seriousness coming into them. “Sara, we don’t have time for a plan B,” he says, “It’s time for you both to go.” Jack then looks to Kitty. “Right you, turn on the rest of the taps, quickly!” Kitty does as she’s told and dashes from table to table cranking on all the gas taps. Jack grabs up a chair, as Sara gets out the way, and flings it at the window, shattering the glass with ease. Kitty joins them both at the broken window and helps Jack pull a desk over for them to stand on to make it easier to get out the jagged frame. Sara and Kitty both climb up. Jack remains on the floor and stares at the classroom door. “What you doing?” asks Kitty. “Somebody’s got to hang back to make sure this works.” Mutters Jack. “Then we all will!” replies Kitty. For a moment, Kitty glares down at Jack. The room is silent apart from the hiss of the escaping gas. “Fine!” Jack gives up, as he pulls himself onto the desk to join them. Kitty, Sara and Jack now only stare at the door of the classroom, awaiting the appearance of Billy, the boiler room monster. As they strain their ears, they hear footsteps getting louder. “I hope you guys forgive me for this.” Says Jack. “For what?” asks Sara.

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Jack turns and pushes them both out the window in the direction of the water fountain. Kitty yelps in fright and Sara windmills her arms in mid-air in a vain attempt at flight, but both disappear into the night. Jack watches them fall, praying to God that he’s judged his push properly. He has.

Both mother and daughter land on either side of the fountain with a major splash. Jack grins to himself in relief and shouts down to them. “You can kill me for that later, dude’s!” Jack turns back to face the classroom door, reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cigarette. Jabbing it into the corner of his mouth, he smiles. Then the classroom door bursts open as Billy enters, flames blaze all over his body, crackling and dancing. The fiery beast stands in the doorway, glaring at Jack and the unlit cigarette in his mouth. Billy roars at him. Jack has only one thing to say. “Got a light?” Then the gas ignites. The whole room goes up with the deafening sound of a Whoomph . Billy now roars in pain as the flames all centre around him. Jack smirks and is about to say something else, when the shockwave from the explosion hits him. He’s blasted backwards, through the broken window and into the night; fire chasing him through the framework. “Whoa!” he yelps as he’s projected skywards. Kitty and Sara are still knee-deep in the fountain when the top floor of the school explodes. They both jerk their heads up and watch Jack fly from the high window ledge as the burst of flames throw him out. Kitty is the first to realise that the blast from the building has sent Jack off course from landing safely in the fountain with them. “Mummy, he’s going to miss!” All Sara can do is stare, wide eyed as she watches her best friend go sailing over their heads in the night sky and landing with a crash. But he doesn’t land on the ground. Jack lands on the roof of the red Mini, powers through the thin vinyl roof, leaving a Jack-shaped hole, and lands with a thud inside of the darkened vehicle. “Oh my!” exclaims Kitty. “My car!” shouts Sara. Sara gets out of the fountain and runs to the Mini, realising that Jack’s not making any attempt to get out the car. “Dude, you ok?!” A groan from Jack comes from within the vehicle. “You don’t wanna know where the gear-stick went!” Sara wrenches open the passenger side door and peers in, to see Jack sprawled out inside the car. Jack grimaces up at her. “I would’ve preferred the fountain.”

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“Well,” says Sara, “If you’re going to play the hero, you should be prepared to take the consequences for your actions.” “If I’d realised those consequences involved a gear-stick up the butt, trust me, I would’ve passed on the job.” Jack gives Sara a tired grin of victory. “You gonna gimme a hand, then?” Sara grabs Jack and helps him out the vehicle.

They stand and stare at each other. “Thanks for tonight, dude.” Mumbles Sara. “Hey, what are friends for?!” Sara laughs, “Lots of things, but I’d never expected to need one to come to the rescue when faced with a fire induced psychopath from beyond the grave, who’s intent on seeking revenge from a past when we weren’t even born!” Jack just stares at her. “Easy for you to say.” He chuckles. “Come here.” Sara grabs Jack and gives him a hug. As Kitty get out of the fountain, she stands with her back to the school watching her mum and best big friend celebrate their victory. She smiles to herself. No-one sees the fiery figure of Billy loom up behind her. Kitty senses the danger at the last moment and spins round. Billy is no more than ten feet infront of her. Kitty can feel the heat coming off his flame ridden body. She would scream if she wasn’t so scare, but the cry for help is frozen in her throat. Billy lunges at her. Just before Kitty closes her eyes in terror, she sees a dark shape bounding out of the night. Kitty hears a growl and realises it’s not coming from Billy. Snapping her eyes open again, she sees the owner of the growl. The black dog pounces at Billy, knocking him away from Kitty at the last moment and tumbling the fiery figure from hell into the fountain. Kitty herself, falls onto her bum in shock and surprise as Billy yelps and screams from the water, thrashing and scrambling to get back out again. But he can’t. The water extinguishes his flames and he disappears in the dull liquid. Sara and Jack coming running up behind Kitty and as the black dog pads over to her, Kitty puts out her hand and the mutt begins to lick her fingers. Kitty could swear that the dog is smiling. She’s glad she saved it from the barbed wire fence earlier in the night. “Kitty, you ok?!” asks Sara worriedly. Kitty just grins, “I’m fine mummy.” Jack pats the dog on the head. “Good boy.”

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Jack’s about to say something else, when the school begins to groan and strain very loudly. The three of them look to the building. Even the dog gives it a glance. Fire begins to shoot from the roof and the structure itself starts to crumble. Sara say one word. “RUN!”

Picking up Kitty, they run for all they’re worth, the black dog keeping up with them no problem. When they feel they’ve got far enough away, they stop and turn to watch the building collapse. It folds down on itself like a house of cards. Clouds of dust billow out and rubble scatters everywhere. Before too long the school is nothing but a ruin. “Oh my god!” expresses Sara. “No way!” mumbles Jack. “That was cool!” shouts Kitty. The dog just barks its approval. As they continue to watch as the dust settles, something catches their eyes within the ruins of the building itself. They all begin to strain their eyes, trying to make out the movements they’re seeing. “What the hell..?” says Jack. “Is that..?” Sara mutters. “Its children!” announces Kitty. Within the bowels of the ruined school now stands over 100 children. All dressed in different school uniforms from different eras in time. Kitty looks up to her mother and Jack, “It’s the children Billy’s kept for their fear all these years!” Kitty beams. “We’ve saved them all!” Then one of the children begins to run out of the ruins. Kitty recognises her instantly and runs towards her, meeting her halfway. Kitty and Jessica embrace in a huge hug of friendship. Jack and Sara walk up behind them. Kitty looks up at them. “I see you’ve found your friend,” says Sara. “Jessica, I think we’d better get you home to your mum, she’s worried.” “Thank you, Miss Bava,” smiles Jessica. The dog wanders over beside Kitty and begins licking her hand again. “Looks like you’ve gained another friend tonight too, Princess.” Laughs Jack as he nods down at the dog. “If you want to keep him, you’d better think of a name for him.” Adds Sara. “Can I really?” asks Kitty excitedly. “Of course! He saved us!” replies Sara. “So, give him a name.”

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Kitty looks at the black dog and creases her forehead in deep thought. She notices some singe marks on the dogs coat from when he attacked Billy, causing some of his fur to burn. The name then pops into her head. “Hotdog Doggy!” exclaims Kitty. Sara and Jack laugh. “Brilliant.” Says Jack. “Very thoughtful.” Replies Sara. Kitty grins and says, “I think its time for a group hug.” They all join in a small circle and put their arms round each other, none of them say a word. Even Hotdog Doggy jumps up on his hind legs to get involved in the huddle.

As they break the hold, Jack says, “Right, I really think its time to go home, do we all agree.” Everyone nods in agreement. Then Kitty turns her head back to the ruins of the school and looks at all the other children standing around wandering what to do and where to go. “What about them?” asks Kitty. Before her question can be answered, the sound of a police siren can be heard in the distance, getting closer. “Hear that?” asks Jack. Kitty nods. “It’s their job to help them now.” says Jack. “I think we’ve done enough for one night, don’t you?” Again, Kitty nods. “Beside,” says Jack, “I’m starving!” Kitty laughs, “Hey, I know what you need!” “You do?” enquires Jack. “Three letters,” replies Kitty, with a smirk on her face. Sara bursts out laughing.

THE END

Kitty, Sara, Jack and Hotdog Doggy will return in…

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KITTY VS THE FOREST OF THE DEAD.

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