By Henry Black
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Jacob Barnes had always been a peculiar child. There was just something about him that I never quite clicked with. He never seemed to want to make friends or engage with anyone but himself. However, these past couple of weeks his behaviour had escalated. He started whispering things underneath his breath. Etching obscene images. The constant staring with blank eyes that drove me to insanity. The way he would shut down entirely if you spoke to him. I was only trying to help. Why wouldn’t he listen to that?
‘Miss Atherton?’ Headteacher Angela Prince called me out of the lesson. ‘Jen, what’s going on with Jacob?’ She looked concerned. She knows how active I had been with trying to figure him out. his grades had flatlined at the bottom of the class.
‘I just can’t seem to crack him. He won’t do anything.’ I peered through the window to the classroom. Jacob was sitting at his desk, his eyes fixated at the front of the room, but not on the front of the room. They had glazed over and nothing could break him from this trance. He whispered nonsense under his breath as usual.
‘Do we think it’s time to bring his parents in?’ Angela sternly advised. ‘He’s eight years old, he should be out there playing pretend with his friends, not comatose whispering gibberish.’ Angela always had a very matter of fact way of putting things. She was not the type of person to sugar coat her words.
I returned to the classroom. The other students noticed my arrival. Everyone except for Jacob. His stare fixed solely in front of him. I approached his desk and peered at the drawing he made earlier. He did that sometimes. I took it as a small success that at least he was doing something. I reached my hand slowly down and onto the paper to pull it up. As I did so, Jacob locked eyes with me. They were not the eyes of a child. Hidden behind them was something darker than I’d ever seen before. My heart turned cold as I stared deeper into the abyss that lay in his sockets.
‘You are not prepared for what hell awaits you.’ Jacob announced. Except that was not Jacob. He possessed another voice within in. I was horrified. I looked down at the paper. The drawing was labelled ‘Mr Diabolus’. The picture showed a tall man with the face of evil. There was no other way to describe it. Pure evil. Just as I’d glanced upon the face, the paper erupted into flames. I dropped it before I could get burned and instructed everyone to leave the classroom immediately. Jacob stared at me and grinned a sickening grin.
Two nights later, I straightened and arranged my classroom. I sat at my desk and waited. The clock on my laptop read 16:03. I was expecting Jacob and his parents at 16:05. I ran through what to say to them in my mind. I didn’t even know where to begin.
‘Hi. Your son is a demon and nearly set me on fire.’
‘Hi! Nice to meet you I’m Jen and your son is the devil incarnate.’
A mousey-looking woman peered her head around my door. She was around thirty five and wore a navy jacket and knee length skirt. She was very well dressed and had a very polite essence to her face. A tall man with an equally as kind air to him stood behind her. I assumed that they must be Kelly and Andrew Barnes. I wondered where Jacob had got his personality from.
‘Hi! I’m Jenny Atherton! Jacob’s teacher.’ I shook their hands and ushered them both to take a seat. As they did so, a small boy came bounding into the classroom with them. He greeted me politely and took a seat in-between his parents. I took a minute to examine this polite, boisterous child before realising that it was Jacob.
‘I wanted to call you here because I’ve become increasingly concerned with Jacob’s work and attitude towards school.’ I began, stuttering my words as I tried to comprehend this version of Jacob sitting before me. ‘He doesn’t seem to have made many friends in the class. During playtime, he seems to wander the playground on his own and doesn’t interact with the other students.’
‘What! That can’t be right, we always have friends of his in this class coming over! In fact, just last night we had Liam Barry over for tea!’ Kelly uttered accursedly. She was clearly offended by what I had said.
‘Oh. I apologise for any offence, I have never observed him interacting with anyone in the classroom setting and was beginning to worry. If he has friends in class I do apologise. Another issue I have been having is the work he has been completing within my lessons.’ I pulled out Jacob’s workbooks and presented them to Kelly and Andrew. ‘When I have been marking his work, I was disappointed to find most of the pages blank, and those that did contain something were just strange drawings.’
‘Is this some kind of joke?’ Andrew entered the conversation. ‘This workbook is nearly completed! It includes every single day’s work that he’s completed, and has been marked by you!’ He flipped the book towards me. Much to my amazement, he was correct. The books were fully completed. With markings from me. I glanced over to find Jacob grinning that same grin again. The evil had returned to his eyes. He was playing me like a pawn in his twisted little game.
‘How dare you insult us this way.’ Kelly shouted with venom. ‘I will not sit here and listen to lies about my child. Jacob is an angel and from what I can see, a model student. You have either made a mistake and called in the wrong student, which shows your incompetence to even know your students, or you’ve called us in to insult us. Either way, your superior will hear about this!’ She stormed out of the room with Andrew following shortly after. Jacob turned to me as he was leaving and uttered a deep, raspy laugh. The light in the ceiling smashed itself to smithereens, spraying the floor with a fresh coating of glass.
That evening, I stayed up until the early hours of the morning. I was not insane. He had produced not a single shred of work since I had started teaching him. He had not spoken to a single student. He hadn’t. I couldn’t stop thinking about his laugh, and his eyes. There was something entirely different when he first arrived with his parents. It was as though there were someone else living in his body with him. I researched demonic possession and almost everything related to Satan and demons. That’s when I found it. His drawing labelled ‘Mr Diabolus’, it popped up during my searches. Diabolus was another name for the devil himself. I knew there was something more to what was happening. He set the paper alight. He smashed the lightbulb in the ceiling with just a glance. Jacob Barnes was possessed by the devil.
‘Jesus Jen what happened to you?’ Angela pulled me into her office as soon as I arrived at school that morning. I looked a wreck. The bags under my eyes had grown their own bags. ‘I’ve received a complaint from Kelly Barnes. She claims you have a vendetta against her son and are trying to fail him because of a personal dislike of him.’ I wished I could melt away into a liquid and disappear. I was placed on a warning and allowed to go. Luckily, Angela knew that I had right to be concerned and trusted me to rectify the situation.
I washed my face in the bathroom and gazed at the shell of a person I’d become. Zombies would avoid me because I looked too hideous for them. A rattle behind me alerted me to swerve around and investigate. All of the cubicles were empty. I figured that it must be piping and headed to the door. The handle didn’t budge. I pulled and pulled but couldn’t move it an inch. I was locked in. I turned to see water oozing from the toilets and filling the room slowly. I ran to the cubicle and began to plunge the toilet with my hands to remove a blockage. A pipe burst suddenly and began spraying water up into the air, drenching me entirely. I ran back to the door and finally managed to get it to budge to find Jacob Barnes standing on the opposite end of the corridor from me, laughing.
Something needed to be done. Immediately. I downed my sorrows in two bottles of red wine and contemplated my options. I needed to put a stop to Jacob right now. Without thinking, I left my flat and staggered to my car. I should not have been driving. I made it to a very nice Victorian house that was owned by the Barnes family. I could see Kelly and Andrew inside. I approached the window to find the living room decorated with upturned crucifixes and pentagram artwork. I rubbed my eyes and tried to sober myself up to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I re-opened my eyes to find Andrew standing in the window, eyes ablaze, locked on mine.
‘You know too much Jen.’ Kelly sincerely remarked as Andrew restrained me and dragged me into the house.
‘What the hell is going on?’ I demanded as I struggled to break free.
‘We have prayed to our saviour, Diabolus, ever since we were teenagers. We met during university and discovered we had very similar interests, to raise the antichrist from his throne in Hell to bring the end of days on this wretched world.’ Andrew explained as he pushed me into the centre of the room.
‘Ten years ago, I was visited by a demon.’ Kelly began as she took a sip of tea. ‘He told me that Andrew and I were the righteous ones. He told me that we were the only humans worthy of summoning our Lord and would be spared eternal damnation and join his ranks as rulers of the underworld. Nine years ago, a blood moon fell on the winter solstice. We knew what we had to do. We conceived inside a pentagram lit with candles while chanting the holy prayer. The demon visited me again and told me that the process had successfully began. He’s not ready to plunge the world into the apocalypse as of yet, but he’s getting there with our nurturing and without intervention from you, Jen.’
‘You need to be disposed of immediately.’ Andrew hauntingly stated.
‘You’re going to kill me?’ I shouted.
‘Don’t be so stupid girl. People would most assuredly find out if we murdered you. We knew you were coming here tonight and as you pulled over we phoned the police. We told them we found you in Jacob’s bedroom. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Jacob can make sure that you’re locked away long enough for us to complete the plan. If you tell anyone of our intentions, you’ll be locked away for longer. Jacob!’ Kelly called. Jacob appeared behind me and snapped his fingers. Every single piece of satanic memorabilia disappeared from the walls. He grinned at me menacingly.
The police arrived and began to take me away, I glanced back at the house to see Kelly and Michael standing in the doorway. Their hands firmly placed on Jacob’s shoulders. He smiled at me one last time. This time, there was nothing left of the little boy that was buried deep down. His face had transformed into his drawing in class. His transition into Mr Diabolus was complete.
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