Bitches

Can't a writer get paid? Give Trev Hill some beer money!

$1.00

Miss Jowens was cross. She had had enough of these young girls and their unladylike language and behaviour. Mind you, she shouldn’t have been surprised. Even at the interview she had been shocked by the way Miss Hayes the headmistress had talked about them. Oh yes, she plainly remembered, Miss Hayes had perused her CV and references with a favourable eye before asking if she, Miss Jowens, would require a residential position.

“Well, I am quite prepared to consider it, Headmistress, but I have found a small cottage on the edge of the moor which would be quite suitable for my needs. Unless the position specifically requires me to live upon the premises, I think I should prefer to live off-site”. Miss Jowens replied.

The Headmistress smiled and nodded,

“Not at all, Miss Jowens. I completely understand. In fact, I think it would be an excellent idea for your first few terms, at least until you feel you have settled in. Many teachers find the girls to be quite exhausting in the evenings and tend to leave abruptly. You cannot imagine, Miss Jowens, what little bitches these girls can be.”

Miss Jowens had been shocked that a headmistress would use such terminology for her charges but she had forgiven the lapse of decorum and accepted what seemed to be a rather splendid job.

The school was situated on a moor in the south of England. The young ladies, although she now gave pause as to whether some deserved the title, seemed good students and extremely energetic (although they could be sloth in the morning). The regular teaching staff seemed friendly and very professional, the pay was good and the hours amenable. A few hours literature classes a day and a little history, then a bracing cycle trip home for an evening by the fire. Very agreeable, or so she had thought.

Her initial reception had been the usual mixture of caution, fascination and a few little challenges, the usual things like feet on the desk, saucy attitudes and uniform infractions; nothing she didn’t expect or couldn’t handle. What had slowly begun to grate on her nerves was one particular class which contained a particular clique of upper form girls, the leader of which, a young madam by the name of Danni Murphy, seemed to have a penchant for high skirts, tousled hair in the morning and the mouth of a street urchin, not that any of the others members of the gang were far behind.

One of the earliest conflicts had come about Miss Murphy’s use of language. With the clanging of the lunchtime bell, Murphy had an annoying habit of jumping up and shouting, “Feeding time, bitches!” to a whoop of delight from her cronies. As the group had headed for the door, Miss Jowens had ordered the girl to remain behind and sternly lectured her about such behavior and language in her, Miss Jowens’s, presence. Amidst the usual teenage eye-rolling and eye-avoiding pouts, Murphy had mumbled something about it being a name she and her “homies” used amongst themselves and no insult was meant by it. Ever after, the impudent young madam had paused before uttering the offensive phrase in time to say something like, “Meal time… ladies!” in her sing-song voice.

Over the next few weeks, it became apparent that there was some tension between Miss Jowens and that particular class of girls. Even some of her colleagues had approached her in the staffroom or taken her aside and advised her, in hushed tones, to watch her step. It seemed that even the staff referred to the clique as “The Bitches”. Miss Jowens, although a little perturbed at the nickname, assured her colleagues and herself that her professionalism would rise above it all.

Time however, took its toll. And Miss Jowen’s nerves were becoming seriously frayed at the behavior and attitude of these stroppy young besoms. This morning had been a near breaking straw when she had come in to teach an early history class about Templar monuments (which had received whistles of derision) only to find the infuriating Murphy sitting on the desk with her skirt pulled high, revealing a scratch across her thigh to her friends.

“I assume, Dannielle, that there is some explanation for such bawdy behavior?” Miss Jowens had demanded. The girl stood, letting her skirt fall back to its full length.

“Yes, Miss. I was showing the girls some scratches I got during a cross-country run last evening when I tried to put my leg over a fence.” She smirked. Miss Jowens ignored it.

“Yes, well thank you, Dannielle, but a history class is not the place for such things…”

“No Miss, sorry Miss, I don’t suppose you’re into getting your leg over things,” came the taunting reply, followed by another comment from a girl behind,

“That would be ancient history!” This remark brought giggles from the class and the declaration of a one hour detention for the entire group that evening. The sentence brought moans and protests,

“But Miss, we’ve got cross-country tonight!”

“Then you’ll miss it, won’t you?” Miss Jowens declared triumphantly. A class of sullen heads bent over the text books and several pairs of angry eyes glared under their fringes at the teacher.

The detention classroom was ready and the girls filtered in slowly and sullenly. There were several books of short stories placed at the desks, Miss Jowens having just finished a literature class on early 20thc supernatural fiction. Danni Murphy slouched in and picked up one of the volumes with a whoop.

“It’s M.R. James time, Bitches!” and the rest of the class cheered. This was the final straw. In a voice of sheer fury, Miss Jowens ordered them to leave the books and to take their places. How dare they disgrace the work of the master with such behavior. They were not fit to read such fine works. And Dannielle Murphy was ordered to the front of the class. She stood, defiant.

“Make me!” she taunted. Miss Jowens fixed her with a glare,

“When I whistle, you’ll come to me my girl!” she replied in a hard voice. The girl moved slowly to the front of the class to stand before the enraged teacher. “Good, now face the class”. With a heavenward  eye-roll, she turned slowly only to receive two lightning hard whacks across the back of her thighs with a pointer. She yelped and jumped around to face Miss Jowens with a savage stare.

“Don’t worry, Miss Murphy, those two won’t go down in the pointer’s diary… but if you’d like some more… otherwise, sit down while you can!”

Seemingly defeated, the sulking girl limped towards a desk. The class was silent, in a state of shock. There was only a mild response when it was announced that Miss Murphy’s behavior had earned them an extra hour of detention. One or two girls pointed out they would miss their evening meal but otherwise the rebellion seemed to have lost heart. Miss Jowens wrote up the detention assignment and sat back, satisfied.

The double detention had meant that the sun was setting as Miss Jowens began her usual cycle ride down the unlit moor road. She wasn’t worried as she had a good light and the weather was mild. It was a straight road and there was no chance of getting lost. But it did occur to her that this was the first time she had crossed this area at night.

Around ten minutes into her ride, she thought she heard the sound of running. Looking around, she saw nothing, although it was so dark that she couldn’t have seen if anything was there. Still she heard a drumming sound like the pounding of feet. Perhaps there were sheep of moor ponies attracted to her light, she thought. However, despite such attempts at comforting herself, she pedaled faster. The road snaked into a broad bend just before the stream bridge and she seemed to hear the running veer off to one side. She sighed in relief but continued to increase her pace as she approached the little flat bridge.

The hard, heavy bulk crashed out of the dark and sent Miss Jowens flying from her trusty bicycle, into the stream which gurgled under the bridge. Struggling to stand, she turned towards the bridge to find a large black canine confronting her with red eyes and a slavering snarl.

Miss Jowens had heard local legends of black dogs but had dismissed them. Legendary or not, however, there could be no mistaking the size and ferocity of the beast before her. She attempted to scramble up the stream bank only to find her way barred by another canine, this time with a lighter coat. Looking over to her right, a third creature was likewise barring her escape whilst baring its fangs.

Miss Jowens choked a scream for help and began to run, stumbling along the length of the stream, often falling and rising, drenched to continue her fruitless attempt to escape. The two lighter beasts ran alongside the stream and then, suddenly, with a great snarling and splashing, she heard the black one charging up the waterway behind her.

Slipping and stumbling, the terrified teacher clawed her way up the shallow bank and began to run across the moor. The thundering of the canine pads came hard and fast as the black dog jumped at her back, bringing her face down into the mud and peat. The other two hounds grabbed her arms in their jaws and dragged her fast and roughly across the sharp, abrasive surface of the moor. Through the pain and the banging of her head the bloodied woman became aware of several other dogs running alongside, barking joyously. The blessed darkness of unconsciousness spared her more.

“Did you enjoy the cross country run?”

The familiar voice crept into her ear, pulling her from the sweet darkness. Her eyes flickered open and through the blurred vision Miss Jowens began to make out a new face, canine, with burning eyes and an almost impertinent grin to its fanged mouth. Miss Jowens shivered as the face came nearer, licking her across the face and thrusting its nose into hers. She shuddered, waiting for the snap of jaws. The animal seemed to snort in amusement and turned its back on the terrified woman.

As her eyesight adjusted, Miss Jowens became aware that this dog, seemingly the leader of the pack which surrounded her had a two toned coat; the upper part around the body being dark but the hind legs being pale, almost white but with two fierce red lines across the back of them. The snarling face turned to gaze at her.

“Kneel, Jowens” came a voice, a singsong, almost human voice. The teacher choked back a cry and stared, quivering as the beast turned to face her. Raising herself onto her knees, Miss Jowens sobbed a final word…

“Dannielle?” she croaked.

The upper lip curled and the eyes rolled upwards before honing in on Miss Jowens’ widening pupils. The other dogs whined excitedly as the cry came,

“FEEDING TIME, BITCHES!”

2 Comments »

  1. I don’t get it, why did the horror element come in after 75% of the story? I think that if the legends of the demon dogs were set up towards the beginning, the ending wouldn’t feel so out of place. And also why was the protagonist so unlikable? If Ms. Jowens is supposed to be the audience-avatar, why is she so unrelatable? Where is the motive? And this is a personal note, but I don’t like how the ending scream is in all caps. I think the reader can infer that people are shouting when the sentence has an exclamation point. This story has a good concept but maybe needs to be workshopped a bit. :/

  2. Thanks Dirk,
    The horror element was introduced later so as not to give the game away too early.

    Thanks for the thoughts about the final line and for taking the trouble to read it 🙂

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