America

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https://darknessprevails.org/america/

The middle school I went to wasn’t exactly your typical middle school. It had been built in the forties, and by the time I went to middle school in the early 2000s, it was pretty much a dump. They kept telling us we’d be getting a new school soon, but it wasn’t until some rather drastic things happened that they finally followed through on that promise.

Not only was the place falling apart, it had a history. There’d been eight deaths on the the grounds since the forties, five students, one staff member and two visitors- all of them murders. There was also two unexplained deaths that happened my first year- more on those later.

When I came in as a sixth grader, the most recent death had been a seventeen-year-old former student named America- a hippie name for a hippie girl. America was strange. She didn’t have any sort of electronics, which wasn’t odd in the early 2000s, but it was more than that- she reportedly hated any sort of technology with a burning passion. Please  that my information about what she was like might not be accurate- I’m just repeating what I’ve heard. However, I’d bet my life most of it was true. Apparently she was always reading something, and she had a thing for old romances- Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, the like. She practically lived in the library. And she dressed like your typical hippie- flowing skirts, combat boots, flower crowns in her hair.

She’d also been an actress and a singer, and had been in the school drama program all of her years in middle school. After she graduated, she continued to come back each year to see the school musical, and to say hi to all her old teachers- while she was weird, she was no recluse. When she was in eleventh grade, she’d been dating an older guy for a few months, and after her death, multiple people came forward and said they knew he was physically and emotionally abusive towards her and a lot of his past girlfriends. He drove her to the musical that day, and it was in the parking lot that things went south.

Apparently, she’d gotten mad at him for something and had hit him on the arm with the book she was carrying- a hardback copy of War and Peace. This enraged him, and he took the book from her and beat her to death with it, right there in the parking lot. People heard her screaming, and a lot of people either called the cops or tried to pull him off her, but they were too late- she was dead.

Now, coming into the school I knew nothing about that. It didn’t get widespread media coverage because this was the same week as 9/11 (the musical had begun practicing over the Summer, the school tended to do four or five shows per year), and nothing besides the attacks really was covered. So I had no idea that was I was going to a school where, the previous year, there’d been a murder in the parking lot (though I knew there’d been deaths).

It was during the first week that I started to notice strange things. I myself was a bit of a booknerd, and spent quite a bit of time in the library. Almost every time I came in, I’d see a book- usually an old romance novel on a cafe table that we had in our library, only ever on the cafe table. And there would always be the core of a red apple next to it, and every now and then there’d be a jeweled earring, or a silk scarf. At first, I assumed it was the librarian. It eventually started to get annoying, as in order to sit in the only good spot in the whole library I’d have to move the stuff, so I decided to ask her to stop. When I told her about it, she seemed confused. She asked me to describe the items. When I mentioned the red apple core, she went white, and looked like she’d seen a ghost- which, of course, she almost had.

“America”, she whispered under her breath.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t know anything about America.

“What?” I said.

After I pressed her, the librarian told me the story. Then, she moved on to telling me about America.

“We all loved her”, she said sadly, “Especially me. Every morning, she’d come in here extra early. She always brought an apple, always red, never green or yellow, and ate it for breakfast. She was something special, that girl.”

I left the library then, more intrigued then scared. For a while after that, I’d ask anyone and everyone who may have known her or heard the story what she was like. It was interesting to me, a haunted library.

Eventually, I forgot the story. There were more interesting things going on in my life. It was one December that I was painfully reminded of it- the whole school was.

I was walking down the hall when I saw a boy slap a girl that I assumed was his girlfriend. He then pushed her against a wall and started hitting her. I booked it- I was NOT about to get caught in he crossfire of this one.

A week later, that same boys class was in the library. He walked away from the group, disinterested in class. Our library was huge for a school the size of ours- you would go to one part and not see someone in another part. So no one saw what happened to him- all they knew was that someone heard him screaming.

His whole class ran to find him, but by the time they did, it was too late. He was dead. Thing is, no one is quite sure how he died. The bruises on him almost look as if he was beaten to death- beaten to death with a book. But here was no one else in the library.

Oh, and they found a long, black, silk scarf next to his body that was reportedly ice cold to the touch.

Now, this is when I started to get scared. I’d thought the ghost was benign- a harmless little girl who couldn’t bear to be separated from her beloved books. Now I wasn’t so sure. What kind of benign, sweet little girl beat someone to death with a book? However, I still continues to go the library, and agian I eventually forgot all about the ghost.

In February of that year, we got a new library assistant- a young man in his early twenties. I liked him right away- he’d save books for me if I asked, and was willing to discuss them after I’d read them, as he’d read most of them, too. Let’s be honest- it might be a stereotype, but bookworms enjoy hanging out with other bookworms

It wasn’t until May that a certain other bookworm struck again.

The library assistant- his name was Mr. Sordino- was found one morning, dead, once again seemingly beaten to death with a book. It was as if his attackwr had been stalking him for a while and chosen today to strike- it was he one day he was alone in the library in the morning.

This time, next to his body, the found a flower crown.

Now, upon hearing this, the first thing I did was run to the public library and ask to view newspapers. After about an hour of determined searching, I found a small blurb from a few years prior about a young man who’d been accused of beating his girlfriend to death, but was acquitted. It was Mr. Sordino.

The school district couldn’t ignore our pleas to start anew anymore. They knocked the school down the Summer after I was in sixth grade, and sent us all to different schools, I moved in eighth grade, so I suppose I’ll never know if America moved to the new school or if she’s at peace now. All I know is that I am absolutely, positively NEVER going to be able to look at a library the same way again.

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