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Short Story Winner

Year 11 Student, Lucy has been awarded a 'Highly Commended' for her entry to the Gibraltar Spring Festival Short Story Competition 2020.

Lucy will be awarded a certificate by the Minister of Culture next week.

Lucy's short story is called 'Going Home' and is sure to make the hairs on your arms stand up!

Headmaster Peter Watts commented "The story has such brooding tension and is so well constructed as a narrative, making me desperate to read the rest of the story.

The 'grip' is similar to that of the Spanish author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Lucy deserves, on this showing, to be just as successful"..

 

Read the story below... if you dare!

 

I left the funeral early. I couldn’t stand the thought of going back to Mrs. Clayborn’s for dried-up sandwiches, warm wine and the childhood memories rushing back. I decided to slip away at the end of the service and hoped nobody would notice. 

I put on the sat nav and hit Home; I knew I had a long journey ahead as I’d moved as far away from this place as I could five years ago. As I started following the instructions down the old country lanes, the landscape began to look familiar. The overgrown brambles that had not been cut back for as long as I could remember; the finger-like branches intertwining; the potholed road slowing down an already long journey. I almost wanted to turn back and take a different route, but the one-way country road went on for miles. 

The motivation to turn around was overcome by guilt as I remembered the little girl I used to babysit and how I’d left her as a prisoner in her own home and her own mind. My old rusted car crept closer to the large castle-like doors and I contemplated going to visit. 

“Would she even be able to remember me?” I asked myself. The last time I was here she was screaming and scratching from the inside of her large bedroom, oblivious to the magnificent fireplace and old-fashioned dolls which surrounded her. 

Standing waiting for the doorbell to be answered felt like an eternity; anxiety crept over me, giving shivers down my spine. 

Nobody answered. 

I pushed the door slightly and was surprised when it opened revealing the old entrance hall. This place had always been permanently cold. No matter how many fires were lit there was a constant draft, despite all the mullioned windows being closed shut. The antique furniture would creak without anybody even touching it; the old rusty latches on the internal doors were shut tight in most rooms of the house.

I knew this place like the back of my hand, but something seemed different this time, it felt emptier, colder, like nobody had been here in years; my breathing became ragged as the damp air invaded my lungs and senses. Glimpses of imaginary figures in the darkness, the eyes you felt were always watching you, all seemed real in this moment. 

I thought back to when she was in the house, splinters in her fingers from scratching the wooden doors, tears of fear racing down her rosy face, her heart thumping like it was on its last beat; I hoped she was ok now. She was frail back then, a vulnerable little girl who deserved love and attention from her parents, instead they would lock her away if ever she was scared or in need of help, she was treated like a prisoner as she wasn’t the ‘perfect child’ her parents had always wanted. 

She often spoke about the voices she’d hear or the constant paranoia she experienced being in the house and I, at this moment felt just the same. Her parents told her she was imagining things, after all she was very young at the time, she would be 11 by now.  I wondered where she was at this very moment and whether I was imagining things. 

As I looked around at the dust-ridden furniture and the cobwebbed corridors; it was obvious that nobody was living here anymore and I knew I should leave the empty house to itself, yet curiosity beat me, and I continued. 

The creaking seemed to intensify as I got closer to the room I dreaded the most.  I became more aware of every sound, my senses on high alert.  Despite my nervous, slow walk, every step I took seemed to echo around the dark corridor. 

As I approached the bedroom of the little girl, I noticed that the door was bolted shut from the outside, just as it had so often been in the past.  Then I heard a familiar sound, a sound that sent a chill to my very core, my heart was beating faster as I listened to the familiar scratching that had haunted me for years. 

I looked again at the bolt on the door, it was rusty, as though it hadn’t been opened in years.  It took all of my strength to force it open to reveal the girl’s room inside.  The room was exactly how it had been left five years ago; only it felt hollow, emptier and cooler than any other rooms I had entered.  

I approached the bed and I noticed photos sprawled all over it, photos that looked like they had been taken on an old polaroid camera, as I edged closer I realised these photos weren’t just ordinary photos a child would take.  To my shock, they were photos of me, photo after photo of all the times I had babysat the girl.  

Suddenly the door slammed shut making me jump out of my skin, I ran over to the door and tried to open it, but it was locked tight.  I was stuck.  

From behind me I could feel a draft from the fireplace, which was growing stronger and stronger like a hectic wind, picking up the photos and sending them flying around the room.  As quickly as it started, the wind stopped, the photos fell to the floor and an eerie silence filled the room.  A ghostly figure floated before my eyes, devoid of flesh and bones. 

It was her. The girl. 

My body felt detached, my feet couldn’t feel the ground and my insides were churning. 

‘I was lonely,’ she said, ‘with only your photos for company. Now you can babysit me again,’ and she smiled sweetly from ear to ear.   

As I turned to look at the barred windows and miles of thick woodland beyond, I realised this time it would be for an eternity.   

I knew I would never leave this room alive. 

 

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