I wrote this for a Year 8 class who were working on their own ghost stories. I wanted to take the everyday and turn it into something spooky!
The Walkers of the Corridors: A Backwell Ghost Story
They say you should never be on school grounds during the night of a full moon. Even the site team will lock up early for one night every month, hurrying away to warm houses and reassuring families after their perimeter checks. For during the full moon, things start to happen here.
The first time I heard tell of it, I was sceptical. This is a school, for heaven’s sake; what harm could come to me, or anyone else, for that matter? However, my curiosity got the better of me, and before I knew it, I was here, alone, on the night of January’s full moon. How stupid I was! How naive! How I wish, now, that I’d heeded the advice of all who had warned me.
It was a crisp, dark, late January evening. I was working in my classroom, an ancient hut smack in the middle of the school. Its goldfish bowl like windows ensured that most of the time, I could see what was going on around it, and anyone passing could see in. I liked it because it was so public; nowhere to hide. I’d miss it when I left. And I was planning on leaving. I’d got a new job at a school closer to my home, so this term would be my last. I’d worked at the school for fifteen years; it was time to move on.
I saw the last of the school’s site team hurrying around the house blocks, locking doors, securing the odd open window, wishing goodnight to those remaining people on site. He waved at me as he passed the hut, gesturing at his watch, reminding me that it was time to leave. I nodded and smiled. Just a few more books, I thought, looking at the enormous pile of marking. I really didn’t want to take it home with me. I raised the key that was on a lanyard around my neck and mimed an I’ll lock up gesture through the window. He nodded and waved a hand as he moved off. Thinking about it now, I could have sworn I saw a look of concern cross his face as he turned away, but at the time, I was too preoccupied with my marking to give it a thought.
Three more books marked, and it was starting to feel chilly in my hut. The heating had gone off some time ago, and I shivered as the air began noticeably to cool. As I stood up from my desk and crossed the classroom to the pigeon holes where I kept the books, I’m sure I wasn’t imagining it when I noticed that the air in that corner of the room was colder still. Perhaps there was a hole in one of the wooden walls? It was an old building, after all. Shivering slightly as the goosebumps rose, I shoved the books into the correct pigeon hole and returned to my desk. As I did so, there was the slightest movement in the corner of my eye. It skittered across the periphery of my vision, reflected in the dark glass of the goldfish bowl windows of the hut. I blinked. Turned my head. Nothing. I’d obviously been at work too long; my mind was playing tricks.
Huddling my cardigan more tightly around me, I sipped the dregs of my last cup of coffee of the day and put my pens away in my pencil case. The silence of the classroom was so unlike what it was like during the day that it was almost unnerving. Knowing that the site team had also left, and that I was, in all likelihood, the last person on site, I decided it was time to call it a night. As I searched in my handbag for my car keys, I swore. I must have left them in my desk in the English Office. Grabbing my pencil case and planner, I slipped my lanyard from my neck and headed to the door of the hut, feeling more and more chilly as I stepped out into the winter air. Hurriedly, I locked the outside door and then strode across the quad to the English Office.
As I passed by the grassy bank by the Head Teacher’s office, I felt the faintest of shivers running down my spine; as if I was being observed. But that was impossible; everyone had left now except for me. Who could be watching? I picked up the pace a little. The grave shaped mound outside the Head’s Office had always rather amused me; I used to joke to students that it was where naughty pupils, those who had been expelled, were actually buried. No-one gets out of Backwell alive, I’d said. Once here, you’re here forever. How silly that seemed now, on this dark night, when the full moon shone overhead.
I cursed as I reached the English Office only to find the door was locked. I didn’t have a key, either. What was I going to do? My car keys were inside, safely locked away in my desk; a desk I could see from the window in the office door. There was nothing for it; I’d have to phone my dad to come and pick me up. Feeling like a naughty child, I pulled my phone from my handbag and dialled. As I did so, I again felt eyes on me. Pull yourself together, I thought, waiting for my Dad to answer. As his phone clicked through to voicemail, I hung up in irritation. Now what?
Feeling really cold now, I dithered on the step to the English Office. Should I go back to my classroom and try phoning Dad again? Should I try ringing a friend? At this rate, it would be easier to bed down in my classroom for the night! Students always joked about teachers living at school; how surprised would they be to find me snoozing under my desk in the morning? It was too cold to hang about outside, though, so I decided to head back to the hut. Just as I turned to go, a cold gust of wind caught the back of my neck, brushing my ponytail forward onto my shoulder. Just as swiftly, it was gone. My skin started to prickle; I really didn’t like being alone here.
I hurried back to the hut, trying to dispel the sense of dread that was rapidly rising. I’d just have to wait it out until I could get hold of dad. Unlocking the classroom door once more, I jumped as something cold and spiderlike tickled its way across the top of my hand. There was nothing there. As I looked down, I heard what sounded like a giggle from behind me. Heart thumping, I steeled myself to turn around, but when I did, there was no-one to be seen.
‘Is there anybody there?’ I called out into the crisp evening air.
‘Show yourself if you’re there,’ I tried again. My breathing was getting shallower and I felt the first vestiges of panic rising. Was I being watched? I pulled open the door of the hut, slammed it shut and then locked it from the inside. My heart felt as though it was going to burst through my chest.
‘Boo!’ Came the whisper in my left ear. I stood stock still, trying desperately not to cry out. My skin was crawling, an unpleasant sensation made worse by knocking knees and sweating palms.
‘Come and play…’ the voice came again. ‘It’s time…’
‘T-time?’ I stammered. ‘Time for what? Who are you?’
Painfully, dreading what I was going to see, I turned around. Nothing. No-one in the classroom except me, but as my eyes grew accustomed to the dim light that came from the desk lamp, my gaze was drawn to the windows once again. There, lined up in the reflections of the glass, was a long line of students. Only they were like no students I’d ever seen. Dressed in uniforms from Backwell School’s past and present, with the range of historical hairstyles to match, they formed an unbreakable chain across the windows. Blurred at the edges, vaguely transparent and with a shimmer that suggested something distinctly supernatural, they stood sentinel, filling every single window.
‘Tell me!’ I shouted. ‘Why are you here?’
A bell like tinkle of laughter shimmered across the cool air of the classroom. ‘We are the excluded; the forgotten; the moved on. We are those that the school sought to remove, to displace, to brush over. We remain here as memories, as walkers of the corridors, a reminder.’
I gripped the desk for support, my knees weak beneath me. ‘A reminder of what?’
‘That you can be excluded from this school…but you can never, ever leave.’
Suddenly, the mound outside the Head Teacher’s office made perfect sense. How many years had Backwell been burying bodies there? The rat population had exploded a few years ago; was it because they were feasting on the corpses? How many souls were doomed to walk the corridors for an eternity? The troublesome students; those who didn’t fit the mould, those who were supposedly moved on to other schools. All remained.
With shaking hands, I scrabbled to fit the classroom’s key in the lock and escape the hut, but the door was jammed shut. Knowing it was hopeless, but with panic overtaking me, I banged on the glass, not caring if I broke through it. The laughter came again, this time with a threatening edge. ‘Let me out!’
‘It is time for you to join us,’ the ghostly voice came. ‘We need a new teacher.’
‘No!’ I screamed. ‘I made the choice to leave. You can’t keep me here.’ The glass in the classroom door started to crack, but it was too late. As it finally broke, the figures emerged from the windows and crowded around me.
‘Miss, help me miss, I don’t get it. Can you explain it to me again? I’m stuck. I don’t have a pen. Miss, Miss, Miss…’
They say that Backwell School never leaves you. That you can take the person out of Backwell but never Backwell out of the person. How frighteningly true that is.