Blind Mice

May 23, 2014
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For a while, the silence bounced back and forth between the hallways like a game of tennis in the dark. Every light had been vacuumed away, taking their sight and last inch of bravery with it. There were around three of them left. They latched onto each other, their chattering teeth making panicked music. They’ve stayed unmoved, long enough to lose feeling in all four limbs and question their drive to fight on. Their backs were pressed against a hard surface and they were so tired it took everything not to fall into a deep sleep. They had been trapped, hidden in the walls of a black box. Surviving was second nature for them by now. It’s amazing how quickly the mind accepts things as normal. It had been so long, they forgot what they did before this. Running in a maze and they were the blind mice, chasing after life at first, but now, clinging to it.

A mild hiss, much like a slowly deflating balloon, suddenly sprouted amidst the black surroundings. The lack of sight made their ears sensitive to any noise. It was time again. Their previous unity faded. Hands unlocked and the steady chatter of teeth morphed into clenched jaws; preparing. The hiss accelerated louder and louder, blinding them and their instincts. Then, it dropped and the next victim’s cries were so deafening they were ignored and the remaining two held each other tight and walked on through the vacant halls.

When Vella first moved here, the school was nothing more than a few broken windows and a free canvas for street artists. The dusty bricks had eroded and cracked in the winter’s chill. The very top seemed to reach out and grab the somber clouds passing by above, holding it over the building; casting one big shadow over the whole estate. Velvet, green moss draped over the pathways and the ground was just a long strip of soggy dirt and swamp creatures. It sat on the outskirts of town with a heavily wooded forest barricading it away from the rest of the town.

Vella had hated the contrast between the ancient school and the modern town placed only a few miles away from each other. It was a small town floating on the beachy coast of Maryland. Most of the residents never left and if they did, they never came back. The people were a wide range of strange; being that their only sources of excitement were high tides and bushels of crabs. The amount of activities there were to do couldn’t entertain an idle cow.

They were all just, well they were all just too happy. They walked around with smiles sketched deeply into their skin and their laugh lines were so deep they looked drawn on. Come to think of it, they looked like cartoon sketches that walked right off the page. They sauntered down the sweetly named streets with a hand full of collected seashells and dried starfish; whistling friendly tunes to themselves. Thier perfectly manicured hair sat on their shoulders, unwavered like a plastic doll. There was a rigid doll like movement to them.Vella was in hell.

She only had one family relative offer to keep her until her parents returned from yet another one of their explorations to the misty ruins of South America.

“It’s only going to be a couple of months. Your father and I think we’ve really got something good here.” This part of the conversation was always the same. She woke Vella early in the morning,chewing on a toothpick, tugging on her packed backpack and wearing another stupid bandana. She thought it made her look like a real explorer. Of course, Vella was already awake by the time she boorishly “tiptoed” into her room.

“ You say that every time, Faryn, but you never come back with anything except a few knitted satchels and exotic tea leaves. ” Vella had been dealing with this the whole decade she had been living. Her parents had not expected a child so soon and didn’t let the premature responsibility stop their dreams of exploring the ancient mysteries of the world.

“Listen, I know you want us to stay with home but…”

“No, I don’t. I don’t care what you do or where you are. In fact, I’d rather you stay there, in your special little jungle. ” Maddened tears pressed close against the back of Vellas eyes.

“ You’re just angry. You don’t mean that.”

“Yeah, Faryn, I do. You wouldn’t know what I actually think ‘cause you're too busy going on all your wild adventures , searching for something that doesn’t exist!” Her foolhardy, dazed expression faded for a second into sober realization. Bouncing back, she smiled but her eyes still held a sense of guilt.

In a less eager voice she said“ We’re sending you to stay with Angelina. She’ll take good care of you and there’s a school there that will be remodeled into an art school. We thought you’d like that because you’re drawing all the time. It will be perfect.”

Vella just rolled her eyes and pulled the covers over her head, trying to keep the insanity of her parents reckless dreams as far away as possible. Her mother’s footsteps moved toward the run-down door, stepping on every creek of the floorboards. They stopped. Vella heard a quiet intake of breath,

“I wish you wouldn’t call me Faryn.” Then a very small, “I love you, Vella”.

A couple of months turned into a couple of years, and Aunt Angelina’s home had become Vella’s permanent residence. A lonely girl living through her fantastical doodles, flourished into a pessimistic young teen with a knack for angsty art. Her parents had not returned and the search party was called off after the storm got unbearable. There was nothing they could do, the police said.

As Vella grew older in the quaint beach town, her happiness dwindled and she inched further and further away from reality. Engulfed in her dark drawings of mythical monsters and devilish fairies. The summer she turned 14, the school started to look a little nicer. The windows were replaced and the moss was ripped away. She walked past day after day, watching the face of the building brighten and look fresher.

“Angelina!” “Angelina!” Vella called up the staircase and waited hysterically for Angelina to come down.

“What is it nina?”

“It’s an art school”


“The old school, in the back swamps. It’s going to be an art school.” Vella had never smiled so widely.

Angelina begged Vella not to go to the school.

“It’s a place of “El Diablo”, Vella”, she stuttered in hesitant breath.Vella just laughed it off, used to Angelina’s loose screw.

“I’m going to this school,Angelina. I’m going and I don’t care about any “El Diablo”. She mocked her aunts’ mexican accent.

“Ladies, we are overwhelmingly happy to have you as the first students in our school. Give yourselves a round of applause.” The principal greeted them warmly. Her strawberry hair dangled on her hips in a frizzled mass and she wore pink speckled glasses which were loosely held on the bridge of her nose. The other teachers, identically dressed, stood beside her on the elevated staircase, looking down on the students with unnaturally pleased expressions.

A crowd of around twenty students were funneled into the front room; opulent columns standing between the wandering eyes searching for the farthest thing from home. Every girl here was running away from something and everything. The air inside the school was brimming with adventurous spirit and longing for something better.

There was abstract artwork hanging from the marbled walls, reflected in the eyes of the professors. They finished welcoming the new students and showed them the classrooms. Vella was in heaven. She floated from one room to another, admiring the different sized paint brushes and height defying sculptures. The other girls looked equally inspired and she even shared a few wondrous glances with the new faces. The teachers lead the new students through the refurbished hallways and decadent adornments hanging on the walls. They reached a room that was laced with art easels on the floor in a checkerboard pattern. The teacher, began to explain the classed they’d be taking in the room.

“What’s that over there?” One of the girls, wearing slim glasses and a peplum, prune colored dress pointed towards a wall in the back of the room.

“What’s what, Miss?”, everyone’s attention was brought to a tear in the wallpaper in the back corner. The paper was folding over in a crease, revealing a second metal wall underneath.

“Oh my, I’ll fix that.” The principal who gave the welcoming speech, walked briskly towards it and pushed it back onto the wall, smoothing it out, but not before Vella caught the very tip of a door hinge. Her faux smile returned,

“Let’s all move out into the hallway and I'll show you where films will be made.” She moved to the front, leading the talkative crowd away. Vella stayed toward the back, pretending to still be preoccupied by the various painting easels.

She made her way towards the wall, making sure no one noticed she wasn’t following. She got close to the wall, putting her ear towards it. It was silent.

Her curiosity was half her personality and always landed her in trouble, but she couldn’t resist. Solving mysteries and uncovering hidden truths was her casual hobby. Anything that appeared suspicious caught her attention.

“Young lady!” Vella snapped back her reaching hand. She turned around, trying to look innocent.

"The group has left you behind it seems?" It was one of the teachers; her arched eyebrow implying contempt.

"I was just admiring the beau..."

"It would be unwise for you to isolate yourself. I'd suggests you rejoin the group and make some friends. " It was then Vella noticed the teachers eyes. One icy blue and the other, cloudy grey. She tried to get a second look as she walked passed her. The eyes were both blue now.

The two of them had moved away from the last spot. Their hands held onto each other once more. Their free hand trailed the walls directing them forward. They'd been walking for an endless amount of time and their legs felt like silky syrup dragging them down to sit. The fatigue had been drowning them. Backs against the wall yet another time, their exhausted breath rhymed in a hopeless tune.

The hiss returned and the warm reliance melted between them. It would only take one of them. One would go on missing forever. One would stand a chance to live again. But they were so tired and the memories of life before this was more like an old, tattered reel of film that was blurry and unclear. Was surviving even worth it? Wouldn't it be better to just give in;escape all the bad? Their hands found each other's again. They squeezed tightly,as the floor beneath them disappeared. As they fell deeper into the dark shell under them, a flash of hot light, lit up the room for a mere second. Uncovering a large door on the other side of the room. A surge of energy engulfed them both. Every inhibition they had, left, and life seemed a lot closer than before. They were ready to fight.

A hand reached out above, digging its unwashed nails into the rough edge of the trap door, halting the fall. Another hand grabbed at the foot of his partner and held tightly. Climbing like a ladder to the top, the two bodies fought in mid air, only one hand holding on to their futures. The fingers were beginning to slip and the tiredness from before krept up their legs and into their hearts, poisoning their hope. With a final push , the one holding on to the ledge hoisted himself up onto the ground floor. The other one, completely exhausted, lost his grip and lost too much of his breath to yell as he descended into nothing.

The tour had ended in the dining hall where a lavish dinner was spread out on the circular tables. Vella sat with a couple of girls in the center of the room. The food was delicious and the company even better. Still, Vella could not satisfy her longing to know what was behind that wallpaper.

After eating, they were shown to their new dorms. Soon it was dark and the girls began to drift into sleep. Vella lingered awake. She just had to know.Quietly, she got out of her bunk and slid into her slippers made for her by the staff. Trying to remember the way back to the art room, she walked, delicately, through the halls, dodging any threatening floorboards. She reached the hallway before the room. She entered and could swear she heard a hissing sound coming from somewhere in the room. Ignoring it, she began to peel away at the wallpaper, slowly exposing the metal wall. She was right! It was a door. The rest of the wallpaper was glued on a little better and she had to pull harder to tear it off. It was nearly all off now, and the door was growing in shape. She looked around to see if anyone had heard her. It was only her in the room and it was very quiet. Inhaling, she grabbed the metal handle which was oddly placed towards the bottom of the door and push down, opening the door like a vault.

Blindly, the last one ran in the direction of the door. His legs were like boulders and his arms felt like fragile string. He couldn't see a thing in front of him, but he ran as fast as he could. He expected to run into the door at anytime and leaned his shoulder forward to take the blow. Speeding up, he ran faster and as he did, he went right through the darkness like it was a flimsy curtain, tripping over something. Suddenly, he was back in the room and his memories flooded his mind as he recalled the school and that night and this room. He poured over in anger and spun around toward the door. His eyes had not yet adjusted to the brighter light, but he knew exactly where it was. Grabbing the door he pushed it closed, hitting something before it shut securely. He locked and sealed whatever was inside away forever.

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