Read here first!: http://www.polyvore.com/flamber_glacer_ryb/set?id=19894992
I made one last glance over my shoulder as Angelique pulled me away from the two ghostly girls just to make sure they were actually real. I should have known better, really. They disappeared moments after I turned to look at them. Turning back around, I focused on running, and not slipping or tripping, which would consequentially cause me to drag Angelique to the ground with me if I did. As we drew closer, the screaming began to make my ears hurt. Smoke rose lazily above the treetops as we came into full view of a tree on fire, blazing and smouldering for all it was worth – and screaming.
I came to a dead halt, surprised that the unearthly sound was emitting from the tree, and not a human. Angelique stopped next to me, but, true to form, stayed quite calm as her eyes darted around, taking in the surroundings, noting that all of our classmates were standing on the other side of the track, watching the flames lick the dry branches of the defenceless tree. The screaming never once faltered.
“All the trees I know don’t scream,” I said slowly, still mesmerized by the orange flames. Miss Hurdy was yelling directions at the girls across from us, pointing wildly in the direction of the castle. Or the river, I wasn’t sure which it was.
“C’mon,” Angelique said, tugging my arm again. She dragged me into the crowd of whispering and frightening girls as Miss Hurdy disappeared into the trees, in search of water, no doubt. Angelique didn’t stop until she found Annie, shivering on the other side of the group, watching the tree rather intensely. “Annie!”
Annie’s head shook as if she was pulling herself from a daydream as she moved to look in our direction. “There you are! For a second I thought the tree was talking to me,” she said loudly over the screaming.
“Don’t be silly,” I replied nervously.
“Was the tree like this when you came by?” Angelique inquired.
“I was just behind the first girl,” Annie recounted, a hint of pride in her voice (I was impressed Annie even had the desire to run for the sake of running in class), “she was just passing it when all of a sudden, the bloody thing comes all over in flames and starts screaming blue murder. Scared her right out her wits, it did! She jumped sideways and fainted.” Annie jerked her thumb towards a crumpled heap of coats to her side, under which the leading girl was still laying, completely out of it. “Miss Hurdy sent a few girls to the castle to get help, but I’m to watch over her.” With that, we all stood to watch the tree continue to burn. I had to clap my hands over my ears in a vain attempt to mute the screams, but it didn’t work as effectively as I would have liked.
Minutes later, before Miss Hurdy returned, a few girls came flying down the path toward us, followed by Mr. Katz, Mr. Boates, Mr. Martin, Miss Harmond, and Nanny Sweetham, brining up the rear. The teachers rushed about, bewildered at first at the headsplitting sound emitting from the tree, but moving into authoritative action quickly. The teachers all had brought buckets, and were rushing into the forest to find a close by stream, while Nanny Sweetham yelled at us, telling us to get back to the castle as she went about checking the unconscious girl on the ground.
Reluctantly, we all trudged toward the castle, looking over our shoulders as we went. Annie decidedly walked backward the entire way so she could watch the flames as they began to lick the air above the tree. Even as we all trooped back into the castle, the sound of the screaming could still be heard for most of the day. The teachers eventually took shifts in trying to drown out the flames, but apparently it was not working the way they planned. Miss Worthginton herself even stomped out to go have a look, but returned hours later, I was told, looking quite frazzled.
“BLOODY HELL,” Annie exclaimed from her bed as we were trying to get to sleep that night. “Meadow shut the damn window; I can still hear the stupid thing!”
Like a fool, I checked the window, even though I knew it was locked. “The window’s closed, Annie,” I grumbled. We were all becoming rather grouchy, and it wasn’t just us. Other girls had been snapping at each other all through dinner. Even the scuglings had had the nerve to talk back to Annie earlier.
“Of course it is!” Angelique added grumpily. “The window has been closed tight since the beginning of the month!”
We all grumbled for a while before becoming silent and letting the muffled, tortured screams of the tree fill our room instead. I haven’t a clue if Angelique or Annie fell asleep that night, but I know I most certainly did not.