Deep School

The Devil has his places, and Jackapo County is one of them. Another bit of local color here, gussied up and tweaked for my own use. One of my cousins swore she’d seen this particular spot while out with friends, but I’m not sure whether I believe her. The craters are real as well – apparently South Carolina, well before it was South Carolina, got its share of meteors. Almost as if someone were trying to wipe it off the map before it had a chance to cause trouble.

The school sat back way deep in the woods. Some place where the only light that reached the school was moon-light. It was a tin-roofed building, black brick’d and red shuttered. It sat in the bottom of one of those tree-filled craters that pock-marked the county.

A man from the university had said them craters was ancient meteor strikes. That was why the plants grew so funny up amongst them. Fleshy plants that sweated unpleasant juices. The school nestled down among them plants like a toad.

It hadn’t been built, leastways not in living memory of any man or woman in the county. It had always been, though not always in the same place. No one rightly knew why folks thought it was a school, but everybody did, though few talked about it. The students, whoever they were, found it regardless.

No one knew who it was who used the school, only that it was used. At night, long past the sun, the school bell would ring…a deep, tolling sound that wasn’t really sound, but more an absence of it. A loud emptiness that shriveled the soul.

Folks who lived near would sometimes report that they’d seen goofer lights way back and deep as the students of the school followed a trail that only they could see to class.

Sometimes, in the night, there’d come a knock on the door of someone who lived too close to the school. A rattling, storming blow that shook the shack to its foundations. There’d be laughter, high and shrill, and goat-eyed shapes peeking in the windows. 

In the morning, folks would usually find dead animals, butchered and half-eaten, on their roof-tops or laying in the road. Blood dripped from the upper branches of the trees and puddled in cold pools in the dirt where those fleshy plants sopped it up like gravy.

Most folks who lived near the school moved after a few years.

The school followed them.