Abracada . . . whoops!

An Incident at Salem Middle School
by Clark Roberts ©2018

February 23rd: An excerpt from the official statements of Jessica Susan Stafford, two days after incident

1) Jessica Susan Stafford. Ms. Stafford to the students. Twenty-four.

2) Salem Middle School. I was hired last year, so a little over a year and a half now

3) Language arts.

4) Jeremiah.

5) His full name would be Jeremiah Witchkin. I'm sorry, I can't recall his middle name right now. I'm sure I've seen it on my class roster but a middle name isn't something a teacher focuses on. I mean there are already so many names to put with so many faces to begin with.

6) I liked him.

7) Great student. I'm only in my second year of teaching, but up to this point he's the closest thing to a prodigy that I've been around, and that includes my own childhood. Let's see, what else? He's been pretty quiet, at least around teachers, but I've observed him talking with friends quite frequently.

8) Popular? I don't know if I'd say popular, but it isn't like Jeremiah is shunned by his peers. I know he played soccer in the fall and was involved with basketball this winter. The students who participate in activities are usually pretty well liked. I mean the setting probably isn't that much different from when you were in eighth grade.

9) Yes. Jeremiah was in school on that date. He was present in my second hour class.

10) No. Nothing unusual that I could see.

11) He did ask, yes.

12) Well of course I let him go. Look, I remember having teachers that only let two kids in an entire period leave the room. I mean come on, seriously, what the heck kind of a rule is that? If a student has to go to the bathroom I'm going to let the student use the bathroom. And besides, it was Jeremiah. There was over twenty minutes left in class and he was already done with his assignment. Like I said, he's the closest thing to a prodigy I've ever seen.

13) Why is that important? I don't see how that could have any bearing on what happened.

14) Oh, I see. As long as you aren't trying to attack or blame me, because honestly, all I did was treat the student with respect. To answer your question the class was assigned a reading that day. "The Monkey's Paw." I let the students choose if they want to read in a group or independently. Jeremiah always chooses to read independently.

15) Yeah, for the most part they do. I mean some complain about the ending. You know they wish to see the walking dead and all. It's fairly tame by today's standards, but it spooks them. Look I don't know if I'm being appropriate talking about spooking the students with all that's occurred. Is that enough to give you a roundabout idea of what the lesson plan was?

16) Thanks.

17) Well, no, I can't recall him asking that any other time.

18) I mean I've already stated I let all students take a bathroom break if they ask. Jeremiah knew this, he's perceptive. He finished his work and asked to go to the bathroom. I said, go, because who wouldn't? So no, I don't think he was influencing my mind.

19) That I really don't know for sure. Five, ten minutes, maybe fifteen. Jeremiah is not the kind of student you worry about, so long enough to make me worry about him.

20) I did. I sent Jose out to check on him.

21) Jose Rodriguez. Again, the middle name slips my mind right now.

22) Yes, Jose came back by himself and that's when things started to go bad. Wrong.

23) He came back but he wasn't the same. He looked frightened. I mean truly frightened like you might be when you're a real little kid. I remember once when I was a little girl my parents took me out to my uncle's farm. My uncle took me on a ride in his combine. That piece of machinery seemed too huge to my little girl's brain to be mobile. And then we went out into the cornfield with it and it started eating away the world. At least that's how my little girl brain interpreted it at the time. I thought my uncle was driving this big beast that was eating the world away. Jose looked a lot like I remember feeling that day. Terrified.

24) "The wall's gone. The wall's gone." Jose kept whispering that over and over. "The wall's gone the wall's gone the wall's gone."

25) This was no prank. I knew that right away. I mean, Jose was nearly catatonic except he kept whispering "the wall's gone the wall's gone," over and over. It was creepy. It gave me the chills.

26) I did. Across the cheek. Completely out of character for me. I mean I hardly ever raise my voice let alone physically strike a student. I didn't know what else to do and to be honest I already had a ball of irrational fear in my stomach. I don't know why, or if it just seems this way in hindsight but after hearing Jose say that over and over, I think I can remember thinking Oh dear God in heaven the world has cracked.

27) He did. He wasn't mad or anything, he squared his eyes with me and I saw his consciousness swim back to them. This will probably haunt me until I die. He looked me square in the eye and said, "There's monsters, Ms. Stafford, there's monsters coming out of the hole where the wall used to be."

28) I definitely did not, like I said, I flat out knew this wasn't some juvenile prank he was playing. Instead I locked and shut the classroom door and called down to the office to report what..

February 23rd: An excerpt of the questions from agent 5 and agent 6 to Jose Mondesi Rodriguez

17) Can you go into a little more detail than that?

18) Calm down, Jose. No one is upset with you. We're just trying to get a better grasp of the situation is all. A little more description might help us unlock something we don't already know, so if there is anything you..

19) Humming? Like a lullaby?

20) Oh, I see. So it was something you could feel more than hear. Was this charge kind of like electricity?

21) Would you say it was a high voltage or more like static electricity?

22) No, no, Jose, you're doing great. We understand it's difficult to describe.

23) Okay, thrumming. We got it down. I agree it's probably a more apt word.

24) Calm down, calm down. You're still pretty shaken up and we understand that, but these walls aren't going to disappear. I promise.

25) That's not stupid at all. John, knock on the far wall for the kid.

26) See, Jose, solid as a steal. Do you think you can answer a couple more questions for us?

27) Now about these monsters, how many do you think you saw actually come out of the hole in the wall?

28) Jose. Jose! Oh Jesus, John go get some water!

29) I don't care goddamn it! Get it from the fucking toilet! Shit! We didn't even get to ask him about the little gray man.

February 23rd: An excerpt of the official statements from Thomas Webster Witchkin

First attempt at questioning

6) Yes, I am Jeremiah's father. And listen, if you aren't going to charge him with anything, then I think you'd better let us all go. I mean, where's my lawyer? I'm entitled to a lawyer!

7) You're wrong! This is America! And here's another thing, when me and my family are freed you can bet your asses every news outlet will hear this story! You hear that! Every single damned last one of them! I mean good God, that room you have me staying in and that noise playing 24-7.

8) Screw you and your questions! How about you let me see my family first. How long's it been since I've seen my wife and son? Two weeks? A month? Christ, there's no way for me to even tell how much time has gone by.

9) Fuck that. Three days my ass.

10) No! Not until I speak to a lawyer and see my family.

11) National security? Are you guys really afraid of a thirteen year old boy?

12) Yes, I know three people are dead and a girl is missing. But Jeremiah didn't kill them, he didn't kidnap the girl. You guys even said so yourselves.

13) Stop. Just give it up. This is America and I have rights. I don't have to answer any questions without representation present. I don't care if you're FBI; I know my rights.

14) You're not FBI? Well what are you then.

15) Confidential. Right, of course. Well it doesn't matter 'cause I'm not answering any questions.





20) You're damn right you can take me back to my cell.

February 25th: An excerpt of the official statements from Thomas Webster Witchkin

2nd attempt at questioning

6) Yes, I'll cooperate this time. Anything to get me out of that room and all that damn noise.

7) So it's like that now, huh? You guys get right to the nub this time. Yes, I think my son was involved somehow.

8) For fuck's sake, you already know my son's name.

9) No! Okay, no. Not back to that room and all that damned noise. My son's name is Jeremiah Thomas Witchkin.

10) No, not exactly.

11) Well, of course I don't know exactly how he was involved or exactly what he did. I haven't been able to talk to him, have I? Be honest with yourselves here guys, since you've taken me into custody you've gotta admit I've been left in the dark, figuratively and literally.

12) Well, you see, Jeremiah's grandmother, my mother, was a practicing witch for much of her life.

13) What? You don't believe me? You guys are something else, you know that. Here you are investigating a chasm being opened to another dimension in a middle school boy's bathroom but you chuckle at the idea that there might still be practicing witches in Salem?

14) Dolores Rebecca Witchkin

15) You could say that. She told me the craft went back generations upon generations in my family. Even further back than when my ancestors still lived in the Old World so to speak.

16) Not her whole life. She told me she'd learned there wasn't any difference between white magic and black magic. That in the end all magic drew its power from the same source. She always said after I was born she felt a higher power and gave it up.

17) Well, not that I'm aware of. You see in the end she suffered from dementia. Those last two years were horrible what with all cussing and swearing. Maybe I should have never taken little Jeremiah to the home to see her, but she was Mom to me and Grandmother to Jeremiah and her eyes would really light up whenever I took him.

18) She's been gone over three years now. So Jeremiah would have been in fifth grade at the time.

19) I really don't know if she started practicing witchcraft again. But I'll tell you this one thing that was peculiar, and it might be a window to show you how her mind was at the very end. Don't know if you guys have ever been around it but extreme cases of dementia like my mother had can be ugly and rotten. For the longest time my mother's dementia gripped her like a python strangling a hog. Oh she had her good days, and on those I'd let Jeremiah visit with her but mostly she'd lie in her bed speaking gibberish. I don't mean talking about dead relatives or long, lost loves but speaking in tongues, sometimes screaming this weird, weird, weird shit that probably wasn't even any language at all.

20) Of course I made the connection to her earlier days with witchcraft, but what could I do? She'd spend hours just rocking in that bed at a pace to beat the world spewing and spitting all this shit I couldn't even understand except for the cussing, and I don't mean cursing, I mean filthy, filthy cussing. I don't know if I can put into words how bad it got sometimes, but I'll tell you what I'm most ashamed of and it might put things into perspective for you. Some nights I got on my hands and knees and prayed for death to come take her already. I prayed for that, and I'm not a religious man.

21) The scratch of that idea was there at the back of my mind, but no, I didn't really entertain the idea of possession for two reasons. One, whenever her meal was served her persona would shift and she'd be as proper as a woman can be eating off a plastic plate in a home. Two, I'm a straight up believer in the sciences and dementia being what it is covered all the bases.

But anyway, I remember the last two weeks a calm sort of came over her. I've done some reading on this since, and that's a fairly common occurrence when a person is reaching out towards death. You get that, reaching out towards it, welcoming it. From what I gather, it seems people just accept their life for what it's been and are willing to accept whatever is coming next. But that wasn't what was so disturbing. You see, she started wearing this necklace, just this thinly braided, gold chain with a charm. The charm was a cross, which sounds harmless enough, but my mom wore it upside down. Come to think of it, that's how it was designed.

20) No. I'd never seen it before. I asked her where she got it, and I know this sounds strange, but remember her dementia sometimes choked onto her like a python squeezing the life out of a hog, but she told me it was a gift from "the parallel side."

21) That's right, "the parallel side,"

22) No. When I tried to get more out of her she would just give this 'oh don't you just wish' smile and tell me I wouldn't believe her. But Lord was that one cold smile. So cold, and dripping with mirth.

23) Right, the necklace. I couldn't get her to take it off, the nurses couldn't talk it off her. Speaking of the nurses, two of them flat out refused to wait on her because of that stupid upside down cross.

24) Sure I did. I mean I understood my mother's time of passing was coming shortly and I didn't want that symbol around my mother's neck when it happened. So once, when she was asleep I glided right up to her side and reached for it. You're going to think I'm crazy but I couldn't do it.

25) It had power, guys. It sounds crazy but when my fingers touched that cross a dull, throbbing charge went through my body. I mean whatever it was just kind of took over and permeated all my veins. It ached my spine, ached my brain, even ached into my balls. Whatever it was it had weight and it put me in a trance. I'm certain it was only a second or two but in the moment it seemed interminable. My mother's eyelids fluttered and she said, "The parallel side." Just like that, the quietest whisper.

26) She wears it in her casket.

27) I wasn't taking it off her, and don't look at me like that. The two of you wouldn't have either.

28) I never saw my mother teach Jeremiah anything from witchcraft. Like I said earlier, it was something that was a part of her younger life and the.. but she can't be blamed for how she was at the end.

29) Probably. I'm sure there were times I stepped out of the room to use the bathroom or run out to my car to get something. So, yes it's possible.

30) Only once. I remember in high school I was having some trouble with this jerk named Alan Chaffe. I couldn't deal with it myself so she said she'd curse him with a shortening spell. That was it though. Never anything else that I can remember though.

31) Yeah, it worked.

February 26th: An excerpt of the official statements from Alan Smith Chaffe

4) In high school I was 6'2'".

5) Today I'm 5'4".

February 27: Full official statements of Jeremiah Thomas Witchkin

1) Jeremiah Thomas Witchkin. Fourteen.

2) I feel fine.

3) The noise is a bit much, but the dark doesn't bother me. I'm used to the dark.

4) That was nice of Ms. Stafford to say, but I'm so much more than a prodigy.

5) Just what I said.

6) Because I can do the magic.

7) All magic derives from the same source. There is no black magic and there is no white magic. There's magic and then there are miracles.

8) Miracles come from God. That's why no humans can perform them. The magic, all variations of the magic derive from another source, and all the magic derives from the same source.

9) Nothing like Houdini or David Copperfield or Harry Blackstone I will admit that much. Those guys relied on mere trickery, smoke and mirrors, a deception of the eyes if you will.

10) Deception of the soul? I don't believe I've ever thought of it that way.

11) I learned it from my grandmother.

12) After she died.

13) She visits me. She teaches me.

14) Every night.

15) I agree. We'll talk about that later.

16) On that day I did ask Ms. Stafford to use the bathroom, yes.

17) She did grant me permission.

18) Ms. Stafford is nice. I knew she would let me out.

19) Simply put, I did the magic.

20) Insolent? On what grounds do you refer to me as insolent? I passionately disagree. I am answering each of your trivial questions to the best of my capabilities.

21) I did the magic. To be more precise, I unlocked a portal to the parallel cosmos.

22) Aside from being the one place I knew no teachers would walk into and disturb me, no, there's nothing special about the boy's bathroom at school. It isn't like that bathroom is built on a hinge to a hidden doorway if that's what you're implying. The same magic could be drawn forth here in this room.

23) Yes, Jose did interrupt me momentarily. And I'm sorry for that.

24) Because I've never felt any ill will towards Jose, and because of what he was witness to he'll probably never recover.

25) He saw what is right beside us every day, every tick of the second hand, every breath of our lives. I had drawn the curtain back from our world and he was granted a panoramic view of the parallel side. Unprepared, a glimpse of the parallel side would be maddening. Before grandmother died she told me she served a glimpse of the parallel side to two others at the home where she was waiting to die. She said both were stone dead the next mornings.

26) I do believe she meant them harm. She has since told me as much.

27) The old woman, my grandmother says was jealous of her. Life sometimes toils us and punishes us and breaks us but even in a nursing folk's home life has its games of flirting romances. Apparently they even hold monthly dances. Grandmother says that since she was the most spirited dame present the men gravitated and doted over her. Grandmother says this other hag was always jealous and casting nasty glances at her.

28) No, the other was a man. There's a small community bathroom in the wing of the home my grandmother was in, and this one gentleman didn't have command of his you know what when he peed and was too stubborn or lazy to clean up his mess. Apparently that was enough for Grandmother to hold a grudge.

29) Granted they were old, their bodies fatigued and their minds waned from the slow draw of life unlike Jose's, but time given, the memory will haunt Jose into an early grave. In my own haste I hadn't thought about Ms. Stafford sending someone to check on me. I like Jose and I'm sorry for the waste his life will be, no matter how mercifully short. For that matter I liked Mr. Thorpe and Mrs. Sanders. And I'm sorry for them as well.

30) Jose didn't see any monsters. Well, I shouldn't say that, maybe if he looked deep into the parallel side he did, because believe me the monsters are there. But what was climbing out of the hole when Jose walked in was a warlock.

31) That's right, a warlock.

32) Jose must have run off then.

33) Shimmering eyes. Naked. Tall and gray. Everything on the parallel side is gray. And cold.

34) I summoned him. They can't cross over unless you ask.

35) I gave him orders.

36) I commanded him to the gymnasium and I told him who I wanted him to capture and who I wanted him to kill.

37) Jillian Mathers and Chase Jensen.

38) No, you could say Mr. Thorpe and Mrs. Sanders were merely a circumstance of wrong place at the wrong time. I didn't mean for them to die. I suspect they were trying to save Jillian and Chase. I'm sure they were noble in their efforts but it would have been like a wailing newborn trying fend off Frankenstein's monster, a Frankenstein's monster that can shoot lightning from his eyes no less.

39) Lightning, correct.

40) Correct, from their eyes.

41) I'm not responsible for the death of four. Three, okay I'll give you that: Chase, Mr. Thorpe, and Mrs. Sanders. But no one has found Jill's body and no one ever will.

42) She isn't dead. She's waiting for me.

43) On the parallel side.

44) Because that's where I told the warlock to take her.

45) I love her.

46) She will.

47) Because she thought she loved him. Everything in life has been handed to Chase. Everything! He cheats off everybody else for his grades, he's the point guard and the quarterback and the starting pitcher, and it's all because of who his daddy is. And his mom keeps him in all the newest fashions! And that haircut, that fucking haircut, with the long hair combed to one side. The way he flips it out of his eyes, his whole life is so flipping pretentious! Jill didn't love him. She might have thought she did, but she didn't, she couldn't really love someone like him. She's meant for me.

48) I could, but I'm not going to.

49) She's being guarded by Grandmother and other witches and warlocks. Grandmother will let me know when Jill is ready for me and then I'll join her on the parallel side.

50) Yes, I really believe all of this. It's the truth, afterall. Even Ms. Stafford knew from Jose's countenance the severity of what was happening. I believe her exact words with you were "Oh dear God the world has cracked."

51) How do I know that? Haven't I already told you, Grandmother visits me every night? She tells me secrets.

52) No. I have no ill will towards either of you. I understand the situation. I recognize you are merely performing your duties.

53) Here? Now? Surely you jest. Do you think I am just another misguided or arrogant or possibly even a haughty teenager who can't deliver the goods?

54) Something small, eh? Okay, I'll play. Sometimes Grandmother does more than tell secrets, sometimes she even gives me gifts. Look at this.

55) It's more than a cross on a necklace. It's a key.

56) Gold.

57) It is upside down.

58) I know you can feel it. I know you can feel the power.

59) Do you believe me now?

60) Would you like me to show you?

x x x

Uh, I'd say no thanks. Here's hoping the investigators involved feel the same way. Paul Bailey -AKA-Clark Roberts "is a happy husband and a proud father of two children. They all live in Michigan and he teaches high school." He claims that "contrary to the opinions of his closest friends, absolutely none of his ideas for horror are birthed from his family or profession." He says that he "particularly enjoys fishing close to midnight when trout streams whisper and eyes open in the surrounding woods." My kinda guy. This is his first visit to the pages of Anotherealm. Here's hoping it won't be his last. - GM

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