Prelude to the apocalypse – Rupert

Dallas, USA

Rupert was one of those teachers who never managed to garner the respect of his students. To be honest, teaching wasn’t so much a vocation as something he had fallen into. There were millions of people in the same situation with their jobs and their relationships. You woke up one morning and found life just sort of happened. Until today, it could be strongly argued that Rupert hadn’t experienced a single passionate moment in his entire life.

And all he felt now was absolute terror.

He’d woken up feeling strange, as if his skin was numb and cold. At first, when he opened his eyes, he didn’t realise he was no longer in control of his body, but it quickly dawned on him that something was very wrong.

It felt like somebody else was in command.

“What the hell,” he tried to say out loud, only the words stayed trapped behind his lips.

Howdy partner, a voice had said to him. There had been nobody in the room, the voice evidently coming from inside his skull. You don’t mind if I borrow you for a few hours, do you? The voice had then chuckled, supremely confident in the control it had gained.

Have I gone insane? Rupert asked himself. He had a brother with a history of schizophrenia; was that now cursing him too?

Now, don’t you be worrying your precious little head about such things, the interloper in his mind had said reassuringly. I have a few things I want to do, and then I’ll be gone. Rupert’s vision had felt restricted. He had still been able to see and hear, but everything around him had looked like it was far away, and the sounds of the world were muffled and distorted. Only the voice had come through clearly.

“What are you?”

Well, aren’t you the curious one? the voice had answered. All will be revealed shortly.

Rupert’s terror had grown as he watched himself go about the usual morning routine. Whatever this was, it had taken complete control of his life, driving his car for him, to a job he despised. For a teacher, this was a pretty good gig, a private school which was spared much of the violence that was endemic in many of the state-run schools. The pupils were from wealthy families, the school clean and well managed.

And yet Rupert was unhappy with his lot.

The kids he taught were ungrateful, impudent brats, many of them spoilt by parents who earned vastly more than Rupert did. Year after year, the arrogance infected his classes. He felt he deserved more recognition for his unwavering dedication, which grew a bubbling resentment inside him. None of this was helped by the disdain the other teachers seemed to have for him. Clearly, the world had something against Rupert. He wasn’t aware that this was often the thoughts of an individual who couldn’t accept themselves as being the cause of their own misery.

He wasn’t a great teacher, but neither was he terrible and he did enough to keep the job he had. The students he taught were nothing compared to some of the schools he could have found himself in. And the disdain he felt from his fellow teachers was mainly a projection of his own sense of inadequacy. Still, the resentment created by his own flawed thinking grew.

That resentment is what the demon presently possessing him had tapped into. Sometimes such a break in the psyche allowed a demon to slip through the body’s defences. It had taken a few tries, the nightmares Rupert experienced leaving him ragged and sleep deprived. But Rupert had relented and said yes, not realising what he was saying yes to.

Now Rupert saw his class through another’s eyes. Walking into the classroom, his students grew quiet, which was a rarity. Their teenage minds seemed to detect something was different today. The demon rode the body differently, carrying the shoulders back and putting a slight swing in the arm carrying the briefcase. The contents of the briefcase terrified Rupert because he knew beyond any doubt what it would be used for.

That had been what most of his nightmares had been about.

“Good morning, class,” Rupert’s mouth said without his permission. There were some responses, but most were inaudible.

“No, no,” Rupert silently cried.

Don’t worry, the voice said to him. I will make sure you get to hear their screams.

“I have a special lesson for you today, class. Today we will be covering the finer points of how fear impacts the human mind.” The students looked back at him, totally perplexed. Rupert was a maths teacher. If any of them realised the peril they were in, they didn’t show it.

“Don’t do this,” Rupert screamed inside.

Relax, the voice replied. I’m only doing what you would have done in time.

“No, that’s a lie,” Rupert protested. Was he trying to convince the phantom voice or himself?

Oh, then why did you buy the gun?

Rupert watched as his fingers opened the briefcase, which had been strategically placed on his desk. Now that’s a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, the voice insisted.

“Please tell me who you are.”

A demon, of course, you silly goose. Now be quiet. Daddy has work to do.

“Many of you here are living a life of privilege,” the voice said to Rupert’s class. There were some curious glances returned, one or two muffled comments that were denied Rupert. “None of you understand hardship, not on the global scale. You get three meals a day, you have clean water and your parents are willing to pay for you to get a good education.” Rupert could already see the newspaper headlines that would result from this, and he tried to push himself back into control. For a second, he nearly managed it, but then a pain exploded in the centre of his being as the demon slapped him back to where he now belonged.

Hey. Behave yourself.

“What has this got to do with mathematics?” one of the students demanded. That was one of the brighter kids, a spoilt child.

“Well, it’s a matter of percentages,” the voice said, lifting the gun so that everyone could now see it. That got their attention. “For those who don’t know, this is a Smith and Wesson M&P 40. It has a 15 round magazine and there are twenty of you in this class. Assuming I’m an excellent shot, how many of you will survive?”

The students panicked. Some threw themselves out of their chairs and bolted for the door, Rupert’s hand firing several rounds off at them. He had barely ever fired the gun before, buying it on a whim nearly a year back, and his muscle memory wasn’t attuned to the gun’s use. This caused the gun to buck when he fired, the first shot going wide. The others hit. Even he couldn’t help but hit such a grouping of human bodies.

One of the male students rushed him. The jock, the sports star, wanting nothing more than to be the hero. Rupert’s next bullet took the attacker in the left shoulder and then another round into the stomach.

I could have done with this gun seven hundred years ago, the demon said.

By the time the magazine was empty, eight students were lying either dead or injured. Three had managed to escape, the rest having fled to the back of the room. This gave the demon time to figure out how to remove the magazine and replace it with the second one he had brought. It didn’t take him long. The gun fired, fifteen more rounds finding flesh, bone and the occasional chunk of wall due to poor aim. But at the end, with all the ammunition used up, there were twelve students dead and five severely wounded.

“Why, why have you done this?” Rupert begged.

Come on, admit it, deep down you enjoyed it.

“No, that’s a lie.”

I’m inside your head. I can read your thoughts. You are the one lying to yourself. Was that true? Was this why Rupert had bought the gun? He had told himself it was for home defence, but he’d barely taken it out of its case since the first time he had test fired it on the range.

“I didn’t want this,” Rupert said, only to discover he was speaking out loud. From outside in the corridor, he could hear people running. The school had their own armed security, and the police would be arriving soon.

I’ve done my bit, the voice said. Wow, I really enjoyed that. Good to get out and stretch my legs after so long. The demon gave a long, satisfied sigh. Well, I guess I’ll be leaving you then. No point in me hanging around. To think you could do such a thing.

“But it was you,” Rupert protested.

And I’m sure everyone will believe you. Enjoy the rest of your life. Rupert felt the control returning to his body, and he dropped the gun on the desk, the smell of cordite irritating his nostrils.

A teacher killing his students, an event to rock the foundations of the country. The barrier separating Hell weakened a little more.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *