A Devil in Daylight
The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class, Book Two
Evernight Teen, 163 pages
16+ due to violence and adult situations
“You will account for what you did to Audrey.”
After three months in the suicide prevention wing of St. George’s, Audrey Bales is finally coming home. Enrolled at a new school, she plans to reinvent herself with a new look, new friends, and a second chance to be just like everyone else. But the kids who drove her over the edge aren’t through with her yet.
And one of her new friends has an agenda all his own.
“You, and all the others.”
During the day, the halls of Battlefield High will echo with their screams.
“It will never stop.”
And at night, their screams will be silenced.
“Until one of you ends it.”
Character Interview with Miss Beverly Drake, 9th and 12th grade English teacher at Battlefield Secondary School. She’s just received the infamous Audrey Bales—along with two other transfers—into her homeroom and first period. It hasn’t been an easy first day at Battlefield, but Miss Drake has nevertheless graciously decided to keep her appointment with us. Unbeknownst to our intrepid young teacher, however, we come to this interview with a little inside information, provided via anonymous, encrypted email under the heading “Alastair” …
Q: Thank you for coming. We thought for sure you would cancel.
Miss Drake (smiling coyly): I’m not sure why. Principal O’Shaughnessy asked me to do this, so here I am. Fire away.
Q: It’s just, there’s been so much press already, and your new students are all minors, of course. Isn’t this a breach of professional etiquette? How comfortable are you with this interview, personally?
Miss Drake: I’m fine. All the names were released when those so-called “Facebook Fifteen” kids and there parents went crying to the reporter from The Register. At Battlefield Secondary, our job will be to give Audrey—and my other new students—a world class education. Nothing more. And she seemed fine today, perfectly happy, whatever you may have heard. So, yeah, I’m good.
Q: After the much-publicized episode of cyberbullying at nearby Fairview High School—which led to Maggie Lassiter’s arrest and fifteen student suspensions, not to mention Audrey’s three-month hospitalization in a psychiatric ward—
Miss Drake: You know I can’t comment on that. Come on.
Q: What do you know about the assault at the end of the day? Wasn’t that from one of your new students? We understand another boy was hospitalized in serious condition.
Miss Drake (impatiently): Those names are still protected, even though The Register ran that story, too. I can tell you this—it wasn’t Audrey, neither the assailant nor the victim. Totally unrelated.
Q: So you do know the details, then.
Miss Drake: The whole staff was briefed. Of course we were. Listen, I thought we were supposed to talk about how we provide new students with smooth high school transitions …
Q: Do you often receive three new students at once? Is it true one of them was expelled from a local private school?
Miss Drake: It’s rare. If it’s going to happen, change-of-semester would be the time, though. And we get kids with all kinds of backgrounds, all kinds of histories.
Q: I understand you’re the most popular teacher at Battlefield. True? Do you suppose that’s why you got all the transfers?
Miss Drake (smiling again): I’m sure I could not say. I like to think I have a great rapport with my students. I have fun with what I do.
Q: You’re a transfer yourself, though, right? Didn’t you begin your career out of state?
Miss Drake: I’ve been at Battlefield for five years. I’m a Battlefield veteran now.
Q: What made you leave Delaware?
Miss Drake (pausing): Change of pace. Chance to leave home?
Q: Bad memories? Did something happen five years ago?
Miss Drake: Next question. Battlefield’s reputation speaks for itself. What other reason would I need?
Q: Is the staff worried about that reputation, after what happened today? Especially considering it happened on the day of Audrey’s transfer?
Miss Drake (thin-lipped): Not at all. Things happen, wherever you go.
Q: How about the other two kids? I know, no names. Isn’t one of them too old to be in your class? Some kind of family crisis refugee—housefire in New York?
Miss Drake: Both of them are properly placed. Listen, where do you even get these questions?
Q: How do you approach kids who come to you from … difficult situations?
Miss Drake: Academically, the same as you would any kid. But you approach them with a little more patience, perhaps. Small kindnesses along the way, wherever you can. Without being too conspicuous.
Q: Do you find it odd when you receive a new student who has the same first and last name as a student where you used to work? Five years ago, or so?
Miss Drake: (no response)
Miss Drake: Jesus! What the hell is this, anyway?
Q: I’m sorry. Just a follow-up from an anonymous interview earlier—
Miss Drake: I don’t know who you’ve been talking to—
Q: Me neither, actually.
Miss Drake: … but this is not what I signed up for. Not at all.
Q: Is it true that Audrey witnessed the assault today? That she was with the boy from New York, and that they fled the building afterward?
Miss Drake (getting up): I don’t know. I wasn’t there.
Q: Where were you, then?
Miss Drake: I’m leaving.
Q: Isn’t it true you killed one of your students, back when you were in Mayfield, Delaware?
Miss Drake (at the door): Go to Hell!
Q: Chance to get your side of the—
Audrey watched the knife go in. Alex’s Swiss Army knife, from Scouts.
That’s right, sis, Alex’s ghost said. You’re doing it. Good girl.
Blood welled up from her wrist, at first in bubbles and droplets, then in a line.
Ignore the pain. Block it out. Deny it, like it’s not even there.
And it wasn’t. Weird. This was supposed to hurt.
Her reflection in the computer screen showed black hair. And that, too, was weird. She hadn’t had black hair in months. Not since her first days in the hospital.
Nor was she supposed to be seeing him. She’d beaten him—banished him.
She had to saw to break the vein. A small, red jet squirted over her keyboard.
On the screen, Val—her one-time best friend—was reaching out to her. Audrey? Audrey, don’t be dumb. Come on.
Alex stopped talking, stopped coaching. From behind, he held on to her shoulders and squeezed.
She still had the strength to use the knife again, going down from the wrist. There was no pain, after all. She had the strength for that and for one more thing.
She set down the knife in a puddle of her own blood, then picked up her cell phone and took a picture, even as her wrist squirted again.
She hooked the phone to a USB cable and to the computer. She posted the picture, unhooked it, and let it drop. It clattered off the side of the desk and onto the floor, but Audrey didn’t even notice.
She tried to put her chin in her right hand. She wanted to watch the responses. See what Val thought. See what Maggie thought.
Maggie, who had started all of this. Maggie, who had ruined Audrey’s life because she’d thought Audrey had been ogling her in the locker room at school. Spoiled, rich little Maggie Lassiter, with the angel earrings—it had been those Audrey had been staring at—and the countless followers that Maggie called her friends. But it hadn’t been enough. No, she had to steal Audrey’s friend, Valerie Mills. Her only friend….
Putting her chin in her hand didn’t quite work out. Her elbow slipped in the blood on her desk. She felt her face hit the hard wooden corner of the desk on her way to the floor.
But instead of hitting the floor, Audrey sat up in her own bed, awake and breathing hard and holding her left wrist with her right hand.
She looked… scarred, but whole.
Her parents had purged her bedroom nearly to emptiness, but her computer was still there, a shadow near the window.
Audrey kicked her legs over the side of the bed and went to it, powered on, and thumbed the monitor. And, amazingly, she yawned, even as her heart began to settle back toward its normal speed and rhythm.
She found her water bottle and Geodon, and checked her clock as the computer slowly hummed to life. Yep, close enough. She took her pill.
Taking a breath, she tried to access her Twitter account.
She smiled, rather sleepily. Everything was still normal. She’d just had to be sure.
Sunlight began to peek tentatively through her window. Audrey set her chin in her right hand and waited for it.
Daylight could not come soon enough.
Alastair Hutchinson lay flat on his back on top of his perfectly made bed, but he did not sleep. Had not slept.
He watched the sunrise.
We should be looking, said one of the voices that lived inside of him. We’re wasting time.
“Why look?” he asked. “There’s an unsettled account at the school we’ll be attending. I’ve found everything we need.”
Audrey is not an unsettled account, the voices protested. She’s alive.
“I’m not talking about her,” Alastair said. “You haven’t been paying attention. There’s another.” He laughed, softly. “Three days from now, we’ll be sitting in her first period class.”
But not as Alastair Hutchinson, he thought. No. As a name she’ll recognize.
The host stirred. We need to move the line, said another voice. This isn’t helping.
“I’ve got that covered too,” said Alastair. “You won’t have to wait long. Trust me.”
About the Author:
Marcus Damanda lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with his cat, Shazam. At various times throughout his life, he played bass guitar for the garage heavy metal band
Mother’s Day, wrote for The Dale City Messenger, and published editorials in The Potomac News and The Freelance Star. Currently, while not plotting his next foray into fictitious suburban mayhem, he spoils his nieces and nephews and teaches middle school English.
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