The Return

One day, the darkness and nightmare ended suddenly. The teacher awoke in the castle to find that he could move again. It filled him with so much relief that he left the cell he was trapped in (which was now unlocked, surprisingly enough) and walked about the castle whistling merrily.

It had been a very long time since he had been filled with this much feeling, he thought to himself. Somehow, he just knew that whatever had been keeping him in this place was gone now, and he could go… well, not home but back to the place he came from. He looked forward to returning to Bloor's Academy and the life he had there.

Sure enough, the Bloors came a week later to collect him. The teacher returned to Bloor's Academy after a month of absence, but, contrary to what he expected, he was not reinstated as a teacher. Ms Chrystal had taken over the role now and was doing it admirably, Dr Bloor said, so there was no need for a second piano teacher. This disappointed the former teacher more than he could say. He found that he had enjoyed teaching his students, particularly Gabriel Silk, and had been looking forward to going back to the job.

He would have argued, but one look from Manfred kept him quiet. Not because of any hypnotic power, but because he was afraid. Which was silly, because Manfred's gaze had lost much of the power it once had. He shouldn't feel any fear now. But the truth was that he did, and it shamed him.

They kept him locked in his bedroom in the faculty , and did not let him out even for breakfast, lunch or dinner. His food was always brought to him, by people he didn't know. They never spoke to him—they just placed the plates on the table and left. He didn't have a chance to enquire about the latest Academy news or how the students were faring.

It was better that the castle he had been in, but he still felt like he was in a prison—even more so than before. At least before, he had been a teacher, so the Bloors had to allow him some freedom. Now he wasn't allowed any. He didn't like it, but that was what he'd come to expect in his life. The Bloors had never been kind to him and he'd never expected them to start now. He however hadn't expected them to imprison him even more. What was wrong with him returning to the school as a teacher? It wasn't as if he could run away from the Academy. He had nowhere else he could escape to, unlike Dorothy Bloor.

Weeks and months passed. As the time went by, the isolation almost became too much. The walls felt like they were closing in on him; the emptiness tore a hole through his heart. On many nights, he would suddenly wake shaking and sweating from nightmares that he was trapped in a dark place that he couldn't escape from. It didn't help that the darkness of his bedroom at night kept reminding him of his cell in the castle he'd briefly lived in. Dark and suffocating.

Other than that, he'd started seeing the woman and baby again in his mind. They'd gone away when he left the Academy, but now they were back as if they'd never left. Seeing their blurred faces somehow gave him a bit of comfort in the darkness and emptiness his life had descended into. If only he could remember their names…