Some kids in the school-yard are running wild. The girls skip rocks, skip rope, while the boys kick things around. Over in the shaded corner by the tree, a gathering of children play no such games. They trade in-the-know glances as others in the yard would baseball cards, or lousy lunch items. In this circle, horror tales of the Public Teleportation Service were told.
“A man waiting for you with a shovel or a gun.”
“Half body transportation”
“Booths with the bottom dug out and a noose hanging, waiting for a neck.”
“No, no. With a pit of stakes.”
Much clamour erupted at the sound of this last variation. It was good.
“A pit of snakes.” Some repeated with deferential awe.
Much worse yet were the tales of morphing. These were respectfully kept for last. They needed to be worked up to. The gruesome morphing tales were delicate mousse desert, saved for the very last moments before the bell. At the ripe moment, a boundless conjuring would ensue in which would be bread to life, in rapid succession, the vilest of imaginings. These would gradually evolve from simply brutish and repulsive creatures to outright savage and nightmarish beings of claws, blood and fury. All in good time, though, and with much regard for the slow methodical progression.
“You could fill the cabin with water.”
The company of sophisticated beastmongers knew not who had perpetrated the offence. The pack shuffled as they all looked about suspiciously, teeth bared. A rabbit lay in their midst.
“I guess there’s also good odds of getting, you know.. getting sick if there’s a virus inside the booth too.”
The voice had spoken again, not merely a blatant disregard for the sacred methodology of the ritual, but utterly unaware of having done so. With one sniff, the depth of the ignorance behind the intrusion became crystal clear. The pack spread around the rabbit like a drop of soap in grease. The young first-grader, pushed his glasses up on his nose, and, in one swift imperceptible motion, the pack swallowed him whole. As though teleported. Disappearing from the school-yard into a far more cruel, more merciless place than any rigged booth; to meet a fate far grimmer than the very worst of the morphing tales.
Here, in the dark corners of childhood.