The next day the sun shone with extra warmth, Harry walked to school with a slight skip in his step. He was free from fear and overflowing with possibilities about the future.
He found himself pondering the simple things in life with new value, like which presents to ask Father Christmas for this year, what names he should give his new friends, and if he should keep his extra sandwich for second-break
With Marc now gone and the protection of his new friends, Harry felt his days of being bullied and looked down upon were behind him. Nothing could tear him off the cloud he was floating on. And that was true, until second period
While Ms Cartwright, in her standard bored tone, explained the importance of composition when writing a formal letter, Harry felt a tap on his left shoulder. Something white and firm flew awkwardly into his face, forcing his eyes to blink in fright and his nose to scrunch up
A generic voice whispered:’Pass-on… oh, I think it’s for you.
Harry collected himself, he was amazed. It was a note. Someone was passing him a secret note in class, a form of communication only done by the cool-kids. Could this day get any better?
The torn notepad, crudely folded as tightly as physics allowed, had the name Harold the Barrel written on it in the most perfectly practised cursive handwriting. And in PEN!
Harry carefully unfolded the paper, his fingers trembling in anticipation. I know what you did – meet me at break behind the girls toilets.
Harry re-read the note as gravity seemed to escape him. He wasn’t sure if he was dreaming, so he mouthed-out the words in the hope to improve their meaning:
Like a rocket, he lifted his head in horror and began scanning the class, his eyes begging to lock looks with the note’s creator
His sudden activity caught Ms Cartwright’s attention, and she slammed her hand on his desk, Pay attention!
The noise and quick movement frightened Harry back to his senses, Aaaah, yes ma’am.
He lowered his head in disgrace but actually just wanted to re-read the note, as he waited for the teacher to continue
As I was saying: always, always, always end the letter with ‘Regards’ followed by your name.
Harry’s hands were shaking as questions spun through his mind: How could they
know? Who were they? What could he do?
Harry didn’t know what to do as he felt that old fear creep back in. He felt the weight of powerlessness pull at him. He felt his hope get sucked away from him with the strength of the a black hole’s vacuum in space. Harry didn’t know what to do, but he knew he wanted to get away
Ma’am, I don’t feel well. May I be excused?
Ms Cartwright scanned the child’s composure, You certainly are pale, did you see a ghost or something? Alright, off with you
Harry robotically packed up his belongings, leaving out his net for him to carry in his left hand
Don’t forget to swing by the front desk and pick up a sick note for your parents to fill in. Can’t have you doing as you please.
Yes ma’am, Harry bleakly replied
He made his way downstairs to the reception area, plagued with noisy thoughts of what trouble he was in. Questions bounced about his head like ping-pong balls in a jam jar. It was then that he saw the police talking to the vice principle, No sir – his mother just wants us to find him. Apparently, someone prank-called her house and said Marc had been killed.
Killed?! Well that is serious. Who would pull such a twisted prank?
I wouldn’t worry, sir, we see this kind of thing all the time. He’s probably got one of his friends to do it. I bet he’s off smoking weed somewhere.
Hmm yes, you’re probably right. But please do keep us informed.
Now the police were on the trail – Harry didn’t think things would move so fast. He thought he’d have more time. The fountain, he needed to get back to the fountain. His friends would protect him
His stubby legs moved awkwardly as his fogged-up glasses blurred his vision, but he kept running. Behind him, he heard voices calling to him. Perhaps it was the secretary handing him his sick-note, or the vice principle – maybe it was even the police. Harry was too focused on running away to care
Harry ran. He ran for his life
What felt like seconds later, he busted through the brushes guarding the entrance to his haven. His foot hooked in the overgrowth and he tumbled down the stairs, face first into the dirt.
It was okay – it was all going to be okay. Harry was at the fountain, he was safe, everything was okay
Everything was going to be okay..
I know what you did.
Harry heard the words, they penetrated his hope like
sharp knives slicing flesh
He lifted his head, his eyes desperately trying to adjust focus and reveal the destroyer of his world. All he could make out was a blurry shadow,
that slowly became a familiar face.
You know everyone calls me Ci-Ci!
What are you…?
Marc was gonna be my boyfriend – I know he was. And now you did something, and Marc isn’t at school. You gonna fess-up or do I go tell Ms Cartwright?
Umm, tell her what? Harry always found pretending not to know was a good place to start
I saw Marc chasing you yesterday and not 5 minutes later I heard screaming. Now you are here and Marc is not. You better not have hurt my
Harry told himself he could do this – she had no real proof
That was me screaming, Marc was hurting me and then left. I don’t know where he went.
I’ve heard you scream, you sound like a girl. I’m telling on you.
Harry remembered his friends
Okay-okay Marc made me promise not to tell, but I’ll show you. We found something, Marc is there now.
What? Oh.Em.Gee! Take me there now, dweeb!
But what about school?
Harry’s blood started pumping, he was going to get out of this. His friends would take care of this and no one would know anything more, except him
Okay, you see that cup on the fountain? If you pull it up, a secret door opens behind these stairs. Marc is waiting in there.
You idiot! Let him out now!
I can’t reach it. You’re taller than me; you do it.
Grossss…if I get wet, I’ll kill you. I’m coming Marc-ums. Just hold on, okay?
Carol climbed the fountain as Harry watched the water stir
You’re such a freak. You and your creepy hide-outs.
Carol stood up, ignoring the black pool coming to life at her feet
She struggled to lift the concrete cup before realising she’d been lied to and that the cup wasn’t designed to move. She spun around, ready to read Harry the riot act. But he’d moved in alarmingly close to her, a sinister smile spread widely across his face. Carol suddenly felt vulnerable
Marc is not under the stairs is he?
Harry’s smile exposed his teeth, No.
With that, he hit Carol’s knees hard, causing her to slip feet first into the swampy fountain water. There was a loud CRACK! as she failed to protect her head against the stone edge
Harry watched as the splashing and screaming began. He watched and felt delighted. Carol had invented the Harold the Barrel song. She was
even vain enough to add her name to the lyrics. She loved herself and she deserved to die
Harry began singing softly:
Ha-roldthe Ba-rrel! Wi-shes he was Ca-rol!
His voiced raised as he rocked slightly to and fro:
Ha-rold the Ba-rrel! Wi-shes he was Ca-rol!
Then fervour took over him and he began to shout:
Ha-rold the Ba-rrel! Wi-shes he was Ca-rol!
Harry fell silent in shock and stared at the black pool. The splashing had stopped and Carol oozed upright as she lifted herself to her feet. She was drenched in black gunk, only the white of her eyes stood out. That and the crimson stream across her face from the gash in her head
What the hell did you do that for?!
Harry was confused: where were his friends? She was right there in the middle of their pool, she was covered in blood and mud. Why were they not attacking,where were they?!
Uh-uh, was the best he could do. It wasn’t good enough for Carol
I’m gonna kill you! Her hand reached through the murky cesspit and latched on to the first reasonably solid object she could find before flinging it right at Harry. It connected. And despite Harry’s feeble defensive reaction, it hit hard with the sound of wet wood falling on a
rock at the bottom of a cliff. It was a sound strange enough that both Harry and Carol looked at the ground near Harry’s feet to see what exactly Carol had tossed at Harry. It was Marc’s partially decomposed head
Harry looked up, with tears welling up in his eye. It was over now for
sure, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Please, please don’t tell on me!
Carol was quiet as she stared at the head. Then she stared back at Harry
Please, please I’m so sorry. I’m very sorry.
Carol stepped out of the pool, dripping black bits of thick slime. She walked slowly to Harry’s shrivelling frame and put her hands on his puffy red cheeks. Then she pulled his face into hers
She was kissing him
Harry felt the cold mud against his lips, then something warm and slimey injected into his mouth. It was her tongue. It tasted like old bread and ham, with the bits of the mud crunching inbetween their colliding teeth. Harry was in disbelief: Carol Wishart was French-kissing him
She pulled back and looked deeply into Harry’s eyes, You’re the strongest now. You’re going to be my boyfriend!
The still tension of the scene cracked like glass with the sound of crunching leaves under heavy boots. An authoritative voice pierced through the bushes
HEY! What’s going on here?!
The gates of Harry’s haven burst open, the pursuing police had finally caught up to him
Little girl, why are you covered in mud? Are you alright?
Mike look there!
Is that a head?
Dear Lord you’re right! Rick, call HQ right away. Little girl you better come with us.
As the whole scene unfolded, no one even so much as noticed Harry For once, he was thankful he was so invisible. So thankful he
could quietly just slip away, trying to forget that his friends had let him down and that Marc’s severed head might lead them to his friends and that they would take his friends away. Harry just snuck into the nearest thicket and crept back home
It was a full moon that night, Harry staring out his bedroom window still haunted by the day’s extraordinary events.
He kept replaying them in his mind, unsure of what was real.
He had to know, only the fountain could tell him. He had to go to the fountain. Only the fountain knew the truth. So he snuck out of the house, walked down the road, and took the back streets that led towards the forest. The moon guided him, with all that had happened he had no fear
left in him for the night and its haunting sounds. He could easily locate the fountain, what with the Crime Scene police tape lining its perimeter
This is it, he thought as he stared into the pool for answers. Carol looked back at him in the reflection
Then he remembered how upset he would get when he asked so nicely not to be called Carol, but Harold rather. Or even better, Harry
He remembered making that song as a joke, and how it was flipped around and how much it hurt when it became the skipping-rope song
Harry stared at Carol in the water, the tears falling from his face disrupting her visage
He remember passing the note around class, and still feeling surprised when it came back to him
He remembered wondering about how Carol even knew about this place. It was then he remembered that he is Carol
But he hated Carol. He wanted to be Harry, he wanted his friends from the fountain!
Where are you? Harry pleaded out as tears ran down his face
But the fountain’s pool was still, bar the ripples caused by his teardrops
Harry stared at Carol. Carol stared at Harry
Marc is alive, isn’t he? That head was probably some old guy who used to live here, huh?
Harry grew angry at Carol’s silence, ANSWER ME! You phoned Marc’s mother, didn’t you? You did this to me. It’s you always you, trying to come
out. WELL NOT ANYMORE!
With that, Harry shoved his face deep into the black water, screaming. Bubbles of rage erupted around his head
Take me! he screamed, Take me, my friends!
And Harry’s friends rose to the occasion, tearing at his skin, eating the Carol out of him. Or so Harry liked to believe…