Ms Morrison picked up the pile of exam papers off the desk and walked to take centre stage at the front of the class.
“Well I’ve marked all of the papers now and I think they are all mostly good,” she said softly and started handing out the papers passing on minor comments to various students as they received their papers. The reactions varied from deep sighs of relief, genuinely pleased and a few mock outrage. Ms. Morrison smiled, thirteen years ago she would probably have been responding in mock outrage and in one or two cases, frustration at her result but not for the reason many might expect. She waited for the hustle and chit-chat to die down which one this occasion didn’t happen. This was unusual for this class, but it was near the end of the school year and no doubt the pupils were looking forward to their summer break. Still, she was the teacher and school was still going, so she did her party trick to silence her class.
The class collectively groaned as she scraped her fingernails down the blackboard. “Sorry but I need you to pay attention,” she said sternly. “The group homework is creative writing. Wilson, Jenkins, Mills and Foskett, you are to do a round robin murder mystery set on an off-shore lighthouse.”
“But miss…” Protested Mills, “we know jack-shit about Lighthouses.”
“Well,” smiled Mrs Morrison, “go to the Library and check out the Boys Book of Lighthouses and do some research. And kindly conduct yourself in a manner befitting your teacher.”
“Sorry miss,” murmured Mills.
“Robinson, Tait, Morell and Fleming; your task is a narrative poem based on the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. I suggest you talk to the history students to familiarise yourselves with the event.” She paused and looked at the single female student in the group, “Morell, I don’t want any characters called Chaplet or Taylor in the poem.” The girl nodded silently while her group mates just looked bewildered.
“Blake, Tarrant, Nation and Spooner; I want a round robin romance story set in the wild west. And finally…” She paused and took a deep breath. “Philips, Hobson, Hanby and Holden. I need to speak with you after class in relation to your exam papers.”
The remainder of the class passed quickly and remarkably quietly. Ms Morrison dismissed the class save for her quartet of students.
“I’m sorry to keep you after school,” said began sadly, “but this is probably the best time we have for discussions.” She crossed to the classroom blinds and lowered them, filling the class room with darkness.
Hobson nervously edged about looking either way as if expecting some one to creep up on her. Hanby just looked bemused, but then again that was probably the only facial expression he ever used at school.
“Ms Morrison,” began Philips, “what is it you want to talk to us about?” She paused, “and why are the blinds drawn?”
Mrs Morrison smiled, producing some candles from her desk draw and lighting them as placed them on her desk. The candles flickered creating unusual shadows upon the walls and enveloping Ms Morrison in a strange halo which made Hobson feel more uneasy. “Don’t be nervous,” smiled Ms Morrison, “all will be revealed in a moment.” She started muttering something under her breath, was it Hebrew? Hanby was studying the candles and a flicker of recognition passed over his face… “A pentagram,” he whispered. “Ms Morrison this is something that…” His words were cut off as Hobson screamed, pointing at the darkness behind Ms Morrison.
Wilkington was not happy, he’d been hired at this school to be lab technician and at the meeting moment he was taking on the role of the caretaker as well, he dragged his mop and bucket up the corridor and entered Room 28. He gasped at what he saw before him. The walls were splattered with blood, save for the windows. “What the fu-” he muttered as he looked around the room. On the teachers desk was a cardboard packing case set in centre, he cautiously crossed over, his feet sliding slightly on the bloody floor. Nervously, he open the box and gagged, before throwing up on the floor.
Inside the box was the severed head of Ms Morrison.