People thought that everything was fine when the school master went missing. That happened a lot. They moved on, went to new schools. Better pay and nicer conditions were always a pull away from our dingy little school. It was only when two other people, the local bard and one of the other teachers, went missing that something clicked in the locals heads. They began to send out search parties, but they always came back one or two down. No one knew what was taking them away though. Never saw it or heard it. People began packing up and leaving, the roads were clogged and there was no way that any of them were getting out within hours. Us kids were right. It took three days before all those on the road finally got out, leaving behind only about 60 families and a few of the older members who couldn’t leave or just plain wouldn’t leave. We weren’t about to sit by and let our town die though. No way…
~ ~ ~
“Right. We’re another teacher down this term. Miss Langlord has unfortunately…erm…taken a sudden leave…” Mr Polton coughed softly, rubbing his forehead with his pristine white handkerchief.
“You mean she left, sir?” Connie called from the back of the class, waving her hand at him.
There weren’t many in our class. Just me, Connie, Warren, Ty and Charlie from our year. The levels were so low though that there were younger kids joining our class as the weeks wore on. Our class had topped fifteen kids at its peak. No more though…
“Yes Connie. She left. So, I’ll be teaching you till we can find another person willing to take your class…” Mr Polton sighed softly before turning to the black board and writing down a few sentences. “Copy these down in your books then recite them with your partner…”
I sighed and pulled my quill from the ink pot, scribbling the sentences quickly down on the paper. When I had finished I went to turn to my ‘partner’, heard him talking and just couldn’t be bothered. My partner was Sam, one of the most obnoxious people in the whole school. A year below me and could already talk the hind leg off a donkey! I just couldn’t be bothered with him. I’d asked to be moved but even Miss Langlord wouldn’t let me. Said that I had to show Sam how to behave. It didn’t seem to be working…
“Alice! Read us what you’ve written please…”
I looked up and blinked. Hm? What the…? Oh gosh I must have been daydreaming again.
“Erm y-yes sir…” I mumbled before reading through the sentences. “I will not go into the woods, I will practice with my dragon, I will care for my wand and I will keep my quill in very good condition. I think that’s it sir…”
A glare but a nod of approval before he went back to writing on the board. Something sharp stabbed into my head as he turned away and I looked around to see a paper airplane slump to the floor. I picked up and unfolded it under my desk, having to hold back the snort of laughter that bubbled up inside of me.
The picture inside depicted a rather crudely drawn form of dragon with a short brown goatee and a wave of brown hair covering his eyes. A long blue coat draped across his broad green shoulders that trailed down to his hips where it met a long mouse like tail adorned with spines of pure red, almost like Christmas colours. ‘Mr Poltdragon’ was written above it with an arrow drawn to the dragon. It was pretty good actually.
Now might be a good time to talk about the dragons actually. Every kid under the age of sixteen had to have a dragon. This unwritten rule came about the year I went to school, so it didn’t actually apply to one of my friends Warren, who was a year older. This also meant Mr Polton hadn’t got a dragon and this made him very cross. Only kids can tame dragons, and some are far better than others.
“What’s that, Alice?”
“A drawing that…erm…Sam did for me!” I told him quickly. Sam wasn’t listening so I could grass him up as much as I liked.
“I didn’t know Sam was any good at art…”
“Oh, me and Connie have been teaching him, sir!” I replied, trying to ignore the giggles from behind me. I knew I’d crack up if I let them sink in. “He’s gettin’ good, sir. Look at the other one he gave me!”
I shoved my hand into the desk, searching around for any drawings I’d left in there over the holiday. There was normally never anything else in my desk other than drawings, quill and ink. My luck though…oh…
I pulled out a piece of paper covered in doodles and scrappy pictures. I put it in front of Mr Polton and smiled. It was actually signed by Sam. He hadn’t drawn it but he’d caught me drawing and written his name on it. Evidence…sort of…
Mr Polton was not impressed with what he saw, especially when I put the drawing of the dragon with the scrap paper.
“Sam, you are coming to my office at three fifteen today. This has gone far enough. I’ve had enough of your shenanigans and so has everyone else. Sam? Sam, listen to me!” he snapped furiously, slamming his hand down on the desk where Sam sat.
Sam looked round suddenly from where he’d been talking to Daniel and Harry and blinked at Mr Polton.
“What have I done sir?” he asked quickly, fiddling with his quill between his fingers.
“Blatant disregard for school rules, offensive drawings of your teacher and ignoring every lesson you’re in! How do you expect to get a good job if you don’t study?” Mr Polton growled in reply, his face going to colour of the dragon’s spikes. “So you’re coming to my office at three fifteen, no later. Got it, boy?”
Sam nodded rapidly and looked down at his clasped fingers.
“Yes sir. Okay sir…” he mumbled.
The rest of the day was uneventful. Magic practice, dragon caring, potions class. That was it really. It was the end of the day when myself, Connie, Warren and Ty all got together, as we always do, to talk about things. It didn’t matter what. We just always had something to talk about.
“Hey, you know Polton had a go at Sam? I think you should have taken some of that, Al. You did do the doodle one…”
“Aw come on Cobo. I don’t have to sit next to him anymore! I don’t care how much of a go he had at that stupid boy!”
“Alright, alright. Anyway, where’re we going tonight?”
We all look to one another. We know where we’re going. It’s the same place as every night since the café was closed and the playground left to ruin. Down to the lake.
We begin the long trek towards the lake, taking the side streets and back alleys to avoid the curfew enforcers. They seem to think that a curfew will stop kids getting taken by what has been named ‘Night Stalker’, even though three quarters of the people taken have actually vanished during the day time. And we didn’t know that we were next…