This is the beginning to an old novella, that has since ceased to be a project, initially called 'edit' it re-shaped into BUTTERFLIES AND KILLER BEES.
William Hayle tied the dusty rope around a hook in the ceiling. He would be the first to admit that his mind wasn’t entirely on the task at hand but at this moment he couldn’t help but think how untidy his room had become over the past few months. Papers littered his dorm, sheets of music and pages of writing and poor sketches laid spread across his floor like the fine layer of snow outside. He felt the cold bite into his exposed arms raising goose bumps from his skin as he tied a loop into the rope and pulled on it slightly to check its stability and placed a chair beneath it.
Mr Hayle stepped lightly across his room and swept up his papers, and pushed them into his dresser- shutting the door quickly before anything can fall out. Paying more attention to that than the cricket bat lying on the floor that he proceeded to stub his toe on it as he turned.
"Bugger!" he exclaimed as he sat down on his bed and clutched his bare foot. "This is ridiculous." He got up gently and shook his foot about a bit to attempt to get rid of the pain, unaware the he looked like he was rather uselessly dancing a jig. He hopped over to the chair and lifted himself on top of it and placed the hoop around his neck, rueing the fact the he didn’t have an audience so he could feel like a criminal of old, like Guy Fawkes, hanging for whatever grievances he had caused. He breathed heavily and tilted his head back, a serene look came upon him- a look which suited him- and he again drew a breath. He began to gently rock the chair which caused the bottom of his jeans to crumple with the movement, and his Bellowhead T-shirt swayed and rose with his heavy breathing as he increased the intensity of his swaying causing the chair to creak and cracks to form in its legs. He began to get frustrated and suddenly as he was about to become impatient the chair gave way and for a millisecond he found himself suspended but only for a fifth of a moment before the was a loud crack and he fell, and he fell hard. Amidst cracks and creaks and many other noises occurring as he fell he heard a crunch, and felt a tremendous pain pushing its way up his leg from his right ankle.
"Jesus suffering fuck!" He cried, clasping his ankle and rocking back and forth within the ruins of his chair and the plastering from the ceiling that was lying around him. He felt his ankle gently to check if he’d broken it, but after examining it satisfied himself it was just turned slightly. He stood up and staggered as he put weight on his foot, the noose still dangling from his neck with a plaster covered hook swaying with his careful movements. "Christ… That hurt my toe." He whispered to himself in between grimaces.
He carefully removed the rope from around his neck, annoyed that he hadn’t considered the ceiling as well as the rope in his assessment of things that could break. He sat down on his bed, his shirt soaked with sweat and his forehead covered with beads of perspiration. It was then that a knock came at the door and Katherine poked her head in and surveyed the room.
"Not again William?" She sighed. "What made you do it this time?" she asked as she went and sat next to him on the bed, her blues eyes radiating kindness towards him and her cherry lips curled in a worried smile.
"I’m going home." He replied.
There is a lot to be said for the English schooling system, especially in the private sector. Children are encouraged from a young age to make friends and create relationships with others, and nothing encourages this more than herding young adolescent and pubescent boys and girls together in the confined environment of a classroom. Thousands of foul minds interacting with thousands others, thousands of wandering eyes meeting thousands others, thousands of hands rubbing together in subtle frustration with thousands of other hands and thousands of heads filling with morbid and suicidal nonsense: and that is something society does not want to see.
It was thus, only common sense that William Hayle be sent into the public school domain. He wasn’t really much to behold, puberty had been more savage to his mind than his skin and he found that his complexion was slightly paler in comparison to others. Pale or not, his complexion was clear enough not to betray the hormonal and mental war that was occurring within the battlefield of his body. His eyes were of a deep brown, so much so that in less than natural light it was hard to distinguish between the iris and pupil. His hair was unruly and messy like most boys his age, and a slight tint of red would occasionally flash its way across his locks like a wave in the sea. He was generally considered an attractive fellow, if not at all an astounding specimen of natural engineering nor was he the peek of human fitness and achievement. His quick mind, slick tongue and general odd odour were attributes no different to those of other teenagers but whilst most teenagers would let off steam through drugs or the premature consumption of alcohol William would take more drastic steps to release frustration in the form of intense self mutilation. But then, everyone has different ways to destroy and abuse their bodies.
It was December when William arrived back in Happelingham for the first time since he was seven. But he found it had not changed since, its streets were still narrow and cobbled, and its building’s still regimented and uniformed like soldiers. Line after line of houses different shapes and sizes, different eras: Victorian and post modern, but all standing harmoniously in their respective streets. Happelingham was a close community, everyone seemed to know everyone in some way and gossip spread through the town quickly and mercilessly, like most small towns it delighted in its opportunities to bring its people together so every year it held a folk music festival complete with jam testing and an annual cricket match between the Happelingham first eleven and a select eleven from the school that was always greeted with great numbers, and William would find that since he had left none of this had changed- in fact all that was different in the town was that for the first time in forty years it had snowed in the small Norfolk town.
It all caused a large amount of excitement in the town, and William had to rather shove his way out of the station grounds as people of all ages engaged in snow related activities- a snow ball fight here, snowmen there and now and then he would step over a poorly made snow angel to the distaste of those who had so feebly made it. He could sense that people were beginning to get caught up in the Christmas vibe, and he couldn’t help but frown at the thought of, what he felt was, such an insignificant holiday. But then William Hayle was quite adverse to any sort of merriment. He stepped carefully down the snow laden street, clutching his coat around him as he walked in a futile attempt to fight the bitter cold that was clutching at him. His feet made a rhythmic thump every time his heavy footfalls hit the ground, one clap after the other as he paced down a fairly lonely street on his way to the school.
The school itself lay at the other side of the town, a good three mile walk, from the station and William found himself feeling quite unfit as he finally arrived on the road that led into the dorms. He had already made sure that a room was ready for him to immediately move into and the key had arrived only the day before he set off for home and as he stepped through the quad he felt a tremendous feeling of familiarity and safety within the walls of Happelingham’s public school. He felt at home within its pillared corridors and felt a familiar closeness as he walked through the courtyard that was ringed with snow topped beech trees, and as he stepped though the doorway into the dormitory wing his thoughts of feeling as if he was home despite a decade long absence from the town were interrupted by a thud, a hard thud that hit him square in the chin. A thud that took the form of a young fellow who was now reeling from his impact, his fair combed hair a flash in William’s eyes and as the two of them recovered he took in the fellow’s appearance. His face was round and slightly chubby, and here and there was a red mark where a bulbous spot had left an unfortunate scar. He was a stout boy, but by no means obese and had what seemed to be a constantly worried look on his face as if he was about to pull a watch from his pocket and lament on being ever so late.
"I’m so sorry, I- I wasn’t paying attention- Damn- I’m sorry." The fellow stammered as he regained his sense and found himself flustered. Picking up some books he dropped as he repeated his apology over and over.
"It’s quite alright." William said with a smirk, picking up one of the young man’s books.
"No really I’m so very sorry." He said, now on his hands and knees and scooping up pages of research. William bent over and picked up the last page that the fellow was about to reach for, who now raised himself back up and rearranged his glasses. "Oh thank you." He said with a smile as William handed him some of his books and papers.
"No problem at all." William said with a kind smile. "I’m William, by the way, William Hayle"
"Oh, Marcus." He said, almost dropping his belongings again as he shifted their weight to one arm in order to shake William’s outstretched hand. "Did you say Hale?" Marcus asked suddenly shocked, his hand slowly dropping to his side as he looked into William’s deep eyes.
"No, I said Hayle. There’s a ‘y’ in it." He said calmly. Causing Marcus to pause for a moment before William began to chuckle. "I do believe, that if you’re who I think you are, that you may know my sister- Mr. Doyle."
"Ah yes, I do. She does the whole silent ‘y’ thing as well. Very humorous…" Marcus said carefully, nodding his head in an exaggerated manned to hide his nerves.
"Yes, she tends to be the humorous one of us." William remarked sarcastically. "I don’t suppose I could ask you where number seven is."
"Well I’m sure you just did." Marcus beamed. "You’ll find it four doors to the left, you’ll see it it’s after six and it has no number."
"After six? Surely I wouldn’t see six if I were going left?"
"The door numbers go from right to left here…"
"Well of course it depends where you’re standing" Marcus chuckled to himself "But you’ll find that this whole town has become rather bizarre lately."
"Hmmmm…" William looked about the school, yet to get past Marcus and actually into the dormitory wing.
"Well I must dash; I expect I shall see you around especially if you’re around Jennifer at all." Marcus said, still flustered.
"Yes I expect so, Good day…" William said now distracted. Not hearing Marcus’ goodbye nor hearing him utter ‘Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!’ Instead he stepped through the door into the sunlit corridor, and suddenly a pleasing warmth hit him.
The pale sunlight that had begun to melt the snow outside, shone feebly through the slits in the walls that passed for windows leaving most of the work to the artificial lighting above. It was a beautiful building- converted from an old cathedral and it had kept most of the architecture, if perhaps adding a few carpets here and there. The light shone beautifully off the one remaining stain glass window, which curiously depicted a black robed skeletal figure that William recognized as Death, and he felt a cold chill run up his spine. Opposite the curious window he found a door with no number and carefully he placed the key in the lock and stepped lightly through the worn doorway, there was a creak as his foot hit the wooden floor and he fumbled in the wan light at the wall to find a light switch, for William- though being a rather eloquent and proper fellow- was to a certain extent: afraid of the dark.