Madeline is resting her head clumsily against Tabitha's shoulder, sighing at the length of work they have to complete. By this point, almost the entire class is silent. Lilly, who Daniel is staring at shyly, is staring ahead however, staring at the back of Terry, admiring his messy honey hair whilst Terry is glimpsing occasionally at Sarah in the corner of his eye. Sarah is doing to same. But this isn't like the other times they have stolen a chance to look at each other, this time it is because of the deep ominousity they had just felt which seems impaled into them. And it feels deliberate.
A casual click of the door and Kiera is walking through with her striking pink highlights dangling from her brown hair. One falls to the floor, welcoming a wave of giggles, but but no one can help but to feel haunted. Kiera ignores the fallen hair extension and the strange haunting laughs which begin to send her waves of her own confused worry and continues her slow walk to her chair, still chewing loudly. Mrs James says nothing but writes a few words on a red sheet of paper, eyeing Kiera from her glasses.
"Where'd think? Narnia?" Paula laughs especially at this, leaning over to Kiera.
"Hey, I bet-" But that is all she could get out as Kiera turns back around, barely giving her a glance.
"Never mind." Paula responds to her brother's sarcastic remark by shoving him with her sharp elbow.
"Thomas." Daniel nudges his friend. "Hey, Thomas. Thomas. Thomas. Thomas-"
"Oh, for shit's sake, what?"
"Oh, fuck off." Daniel chortles at this. "Oh, shut it, Dan." Daniel waits for his friend to continue with his work before he starts nudging him again in the arm. Thomas growls in frustration.
"Thomas. Thomas. Thomas. Thomasss. Tommy-Tom-Tom-"
"Oh, piss off."
"Thomas. Thomas. Thomas-"
"Oh, fuck off!" His voice almost breaks into a shout as he hisses angrily, nudging his friend back even harder.
"Feisty one you are."
"Oh, piss of Jerry." Thomas grinds his teeth.
"Thomas, why do you always start your sentences with "oh", Thomas." Daniel whines irritatingly.
"Oh, for flips fucking-" But he can't help but burst into a snicker.
That's when Mrs James signals to stand behind their chairs and pack away. The class of 9DJ burst into chatter as they impatiently fumble for their bags and coats. The excruciating sound of twenty seven chairs screaming and scraping against the floor being enough to make Mrs James cringe. The bell echoes like a siren, screeching and losing itself among the eager chatter, but despite the noise, in that split second of the bell echoing before they would be plunged into blindness, they all have a strange sense that it is too quiet; the sounds of scraping chairs behind the hollow walls didn't sound, and the loud voices among the classrooms didn't begin, and pupils let out early weren't passing through the corridors excitedly. Oh, it is all too quiet. All too strange. Suppose these signs are warnings; people trying to warn them even, to warn them about the threatening inauspicious place they considered safe. To get them out. But it just wasn't enough. It was just all for nothing. They just didn't listen.
Just complete darkness fills the room, or the light fills out of the room. And there isn't even a sound to it; no bulb bursting, no crash, no smash, no bang. Nothing. And a deathly quietness settles among the chilled room; a sudden pierce of raw trepidation, clawing down their spines, making them shudder like a bird trembling at a sudden strike of lightening which brings light to the familiar darkness. That silence shatters apprehensively and the chatter is back again, but it isn't eager or excitable, it is nervous. Even now, some just had a slight shiver before laughing anxiously, the conclusion to the unwelcomed blackness already pining in their heads to erase any fear or panic that would have been unnecessary to them. And the echoing muffles become clear to the children, absently aware of the world they had been taken from, and most of those thirteen and fourteen year olds, although confused, are conversant that it wasn't just their classroom that had blacked out, it was them as well.
"Mrs James...?" A shaky, uneasy voice finally breaks out, calling to the dark. The response is a choke; a slight break in their teacher's voice as she naturalizes the unexpected loss of light.
"Oh...i-i-it...there must have been a power cut...in the school." Her voice at first is trembling slightly in puzzlement before it returns its firm, professional tone, although the edginess is still coated around it. "Okay...okay everybody calm down, there must have been a technical issue somewhere. Okay, listen, okay," She raises her voice slightly, trying to instruct over the rambles and giggles.
"Does this mean we have to stay here all night?"
"What the fuck?"
"Is my phone still working?"
"Jerry, I can't see your face. Where did your face go?"
"Why can't I see anything?"
But all were based with cracks of uncontrollable giggles and excitement, draining out the distant urgent voice of Mrs James.
"Shut up!" She screams in the same volume as the beginning of the lesson, her strict ordering voice clogging the voices in their throats. "Thank you." Mrs James smiles, Terry smiles. "Now, the phone, including all of yours, wont be working for obvious reasons and so I'll have to find my way to the reception to find out what's going on. Maybe I'll trip on one of your banana peels on the way and if you hear me fall, I welcome you all to shout out "banana heals"." The class is silent for a moment before laughing uncontrollably again; the whole situation seems ridiculous and hilarious, but Mrs James, beneath her jokey tone to calm her students, is being slowly eaten away by her worry, burrowing into her skin, wriggling even deeper as she looks out to the blurry outline of the door, the pure unknown out there freezing her briefly. "Okay, I won't be long. Try to settle yourselves. Mrs James the Janitor will fix it in no time." They all groan. "Can we fix it?" Each pupil rolls their eyes and chuckles tiredly before unenthusiastically grunting, "Yes we can!" In unison.
"Cringe." A few sniggers respond to David's amused sigh, although some remain detached and wary, feeling oddly drawn to what they thought was the window to outside. The heavy splashes of rain and the rumbles of shaky thunder even seem isolated; like they are from another place. Not from here.
"I'll be as quick as I can." Mrs James says perkily, plastering a smile over her face to drain out her unsettlement and reassure her pupils, although no student were able to see her expression in the shadows. They feel her hesitate and pause before her heels clonk against wood, the door squeaking open and thudding shut. And a cold draft flows into the room, wiping most of the smiles off the children's faces, sending the panic that they tried so desperately to ignore swaying back through their bodies, each shudder like a penetrating impulse of uncertainty. Thick clouds of musky dust wafts eerily through the still air, tingling their noses and tightening their chests. The longing for the presence of their teacher shook them, resurrecting the silence that previously died out, and at that short, tense, even terrified moment, they all know somewhere deep inside of them that Mrs James isn't going to return.
She finds her way down the walls, focusing on the smoothness of the tiles, fingers poised in a grip of uncertainty. But her figure strode of that of the pride and knowing of an authorial, professional woman; allowing her mind to be free of thought or panic. But it does seem very quiet. Yes...very quiet...and Mrs James can almost feel the isolation and emptiness of the place, like no one else was there. But of course they were; she would attend to the reception and call out and they would call out back that the power will be on soon and then the lights will flow through the school after the caretaker had regenerated them and everyone will laugh, then and she would go back to her classroom and shout for the class to shut up and then the bell will go and everyone will leave and she will finish marking Lenon and Alex's essays and then she will have a cup of tea with her hilarious college, Harriet who will tell her the story of how she fell out of a car window at the age of forty seven, and then she will drive home in her red mini and pick up a good luck card for Chloe getting a first in uni...
Mrs James stopped herself. The fast pacing personal thoughts was completely unnecessary; any hint of fear or anxiousness was completely unnecessary. But it did seem very quiet. Yes...very quiet. And what if there was a severe electrical issue and someone was...no...the teachers clearly remained in the classroom until assistance arrived, which is what she should have done. It isn't her duty as a teacher to investigate or to contact because it isn't her role. She shouldn't leave students alone in a classroom in the dark. There are precautions and health and safeties. She should never have left them alone, especially during a power cut. Although perhaps understandable why she would try to solve the problem, it is very irresponsible of her to leave them unaccompanied by an adult. They aren't year twelves or thirteens where the students are near enough adults, they are year nines. They are children. Mrs James turned around to proceed down the corridor when everything seemed different, like from another part of the school. The corridor isn't the same: the posters aren't maths or R.E related; they are geographic. Frowning, she clutches her head in an instant, rubbing fiercely, trying desperately to solve her own blackout, but she could remember and could feel no time passing. It was if time itself had faltered.