THE JANITOR'S POV
I remember first hearing this story back in elementary school on the playground. It was a crazy story, about a schoolteacher who would go from place to place, strangling kids before moving on. According to this story, nobody knew where they came from or where they would go. Nobody knew how old exactly this schoolteacher was. They didn't have a universal appearance either, but would be like a kind of shapeshifter.
For those of you who were not born and raised in the South, the Schoolteacher was a story that you most likely would never have heard of. Let me enlighten you.
The story, as told on many an elementary school playground back in the day, was as follows: There was a schoolteacher who would go around from city to city, town to town, looking for a school to teach at. When they found a place and would get hired, the schoolteacher (sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, sometimes older, sometimes younger) would choose one student that they would decide was their best student. That student got personally tutored by this teacher. At the end of 2 years, the schoolteacher would move on, but not before fatally strangling this particular student. It was said that the only way to identify this individual was by the fact that their hands were permanently stained red, stained by the blood of the strangled students.
I, like many others in the South, had heard this story told multiple times at recess. It was not just told at public school, but also private schools as well. In fact, this was a story that I grew up with. Surprisingly, the story of the Schoolteacher was even told in middle and high school too. Although in high school, it was really only mentioned in passing. Really nothing more than a "can you believe we used to get scared by this?" type of thing. Great ghost story, but nothing more. The story of the schoolteacher remained in the back of my mind, an odd memory of my childhood as I got older. Just a story to teach children not to trust everyone, I thought. Boy was I wrong.
Looking back on things, outside of that crazy story, nothing was off at that school I went to. Elementary school was very uneventful. Well, outside of the incident in which another student pulled the fire alarm in order to try to get out of taking the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test). Not only did it not work, but it served to cause us to have to stay at school longer, due to us still having to take the test anyway. That annoyed me, along with other kids. There were a few students that transferred to other schools, but that's not unusual. Mostly, I studied and kept to myself. I didn't have time to get caught up in the drama.
The time that this had happened has grown a little bit fuzzy as the years had passed. But the memories of what happened will never fade.
I had taken on a part time job as a janitor in order to pay some bills. After school had closed for the day I would go in, wipe down all of the desks in the classrooms, and leave. It didn't pay much, but it got me through high school and kept me out of trouble. It was a small charter school, the kind that super rich people send their kids to. I was able to get it all cleaned in about 1-2 hours then was able to go home. Sometimes, the teachers left decorations on their desks, along with instructions on where they wanted them put up in their classrooms. This I was always glad to do.
Usually at the time I was there (late afternoon or evening, depending on what day of the week I was working), all of the teachers had either gone home or walking up the hallway heading home. They were done for the day and liked to leave as soon as possible. I never stood in their way and they were very nice to me. One teacher, however, stood out.
He was an art teacher. His classroom always well organized and he was super nice. I don't know his real name, as he introduced himself to me as Mr. A.
Mr. A was not a suspicious person. He seemed to really enjoy teaching art to kids, as evidenced by all of the art paraphanalia that lined the shelves on the perimeter of his classroom. Clay, paint, paint brushes, and other art supplies filled all of the shelves. Each shelf had his students' names written on a strip of electrical tape. More electrical tape separated the long shelves into sections for each student to keep their art supplies separate.
As far as cleaning Mr. A.'s classroom is concerned, it was mostly fairly easy. All it really needed every night was the desks wiped off. Mr. A. always insisted on mopping the floor himself. Not really unusual for an art teacher. One thing that it seems like all art teachers are kinda paranoid about is us janitors accidentally throwing away something that is in fact part of a project. Being asked to not mop up the art room was, in fact, a very common request.
However, what stood out the most about Mr. A was the fact that his hands appeared to be permanently stained red. Like, the redness your hands would be if you had been tightly gripping something and pulling for a long time red.
Mostly, this redness was on his palms but it had also spread to the backs of his hands as well. His being an art teacher is what initially explained it. That, and the fact that every single time I was in Mr. A.'s classroom wiping off desks, he was invariably wrists deep into some sort of red artistic substance. I chalked it up to that and went about cleaning.
Now, I liked to park my car behind the school building. It didn't make any sense to park it in front, as the door key that I had was to the back door and not the front. The supply closet was in the back of the school, so it made more sense to me to come in the back than it did to come in the front as well. Usually at night, there was nobody there. Those who were there never bothered me.
However, on this night, there was something that was quite a bit odd (to put it mildly).
As usual, I cleaned Mr. A.'s classroom last, as it was the only one that I did not mop. As usual, Mr. A. was there, yet again wrists deep in some kind of red substance. On this night, it appeared to be kinetic sand, a substance that while I recognize, I do not know how it works exactly. After all, I'm a janitor, not a chemistry teacher. One of his students was in his classroom as well, a boy. While this was a little bit odd, I did remember Mr. A.'s telling me one time that he had a son. It was not late at night, (maybe 5-6 in the evening), so I figured that he had decided to let his kid play with some of his art supplies.
As I was leaving, Mr. A got up and started walking toward me. He smiled, then held the door open for me. "I'm heading home," Mr. A. said. His voice sounded normal so I didn't think anything of it. The little boy that I thought was his son followed us out.
Once in the parking lot, I began walking to my car, when I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. There was an unusual noise coming from the other end of the parking lot. Like an idiot, I began walking towards that noise to investigate.
What I saw was something that to this day, I will never be able to put into words. At least, not entirely.
The noise was a low, animalistic growl. Where Mr. A. had been standing only moments before, there was a creature that closely resembled a fairy tale dragon, only smaller. It did not breathe fire, but had these spikes that it had pushed deep into the boy's skull. Where there would be hands were tentacles wrapped several times around the boy's neck, completely cutting off his air supply.
There was no saving that boy. He died in the creature's grip, but that wasn't the worst of it. After he had died, the creature suddenly devoured the body or seemed to and morphed into the boy. After that had happened, he ran off.
I ran back to my car and drove home, heart pounding. There was no way I could tell anybody what had happened. No way anyone would believe me. I did the only logical thing that I could think of to do, which was to stay quiet about the whole thing. If the police questioned me, I was going to tell them that the last time I saw Mr. A. he was getting into his car and driving off, presumably back to his home.
Strangely enough, Mr. A. was not reported missing right away and not by any family members. The school I worked for called to report him missing after nobody could get a hold of him. Everyone was questioned and everyone had the same story as I did. He did nothing out of the ordinary.
The police went on to question all of the children that were in Mr. A.'s art class. All of them told the same story - even the little boy who wasn't really a little boy anymore, but rather whatever Mr. A. was in disguise.
Things started going weird on the last day of school. The little boy's body turned up on the playground that day. He was found with deep red marks around his neck and draped over the top of the monkey bars. Police were called and after questioning all of the students and staff (I won't bore you with the questions that the police had asked me), they came to the same conclusion: Mr. A. was now their prime suspect, but he had completely vanished.
Years passed by. I graduated from high school and quit my job at that school. I moved to a different area as it just wasn't practical to continue working there. However, the horror also followed me.
To this day, I cross paths with this creature. No matter where I work, this...thing...always shows up. Usually a customer, sometimes male, sometimes female. Invariably though, the hands are always red and they're always a teacher. I only know about the deaths when either shocked classmates or grieving parents come in and talk about it. The cause of death is always the same: strangulation. To this day, I wonder...is there a reason this creature seems to be following me? Am I somehow its next target?