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When I was a gravedigger, a ghost started haunting me. (Part 1)
I’ve been meaning to write it down for years now, because it still… Well, I suppose to say that it haunts me is the wrong word, or maybe precisely the right one, but I’ve been meaning to write it down, and it’s just never been the right time, or I’ve never been able to sit down and focus enough to do it.
Gez – Geraint, that is, my husband – has been on at me to write it down, though, has insisted that he wants to read it, because I’ve tried to tell him once or twice, but I’ve never been good at putting words together and talking out loud. I’m not too great at writing either, but I’m better at it, I am, I swear.
And it needs to be told. The longer I carry it with me, the heavier it feels.
My name is Ray, Ray Darvill, and these days I’m basically employed as my boyfriend’s tech support, but for 19 years I was a postman, and for several years after that, I was a gravedigger.
In 2001, a few months after I’d turned forty, I was in a bad turnover on the M6. You might have seen about it in the papers at the time, I don’t know if it was a big thing or not – I was still a postman at the time, and it was a pretty bad wreck. Some prick in a Saxo, on his phone and not watching the road in the pouring rain, rammed into me and sent me skidding into the path of an eighteen-tonne lorry.
I was in hospital for a while, but they cleared me up pretty well, and for all the pile-up it caused, I was mostly alright – no head injury, no damage to the spine. Once they had me hopped up on morphine, the thing I was most worried about was the letters – my van doors had been busted open, and there was post all over the road in the pouring rain. Apparently, so the nurses told me, I was babbling like Hell about it.
I always wanted to be a postman when I was a little boy, you see, and I took it seriously.
After the accident, though, my hip was shot, always stiff – I ended up having a hip replacement a few years after the accident when it didn’t improve. For the first few years, though, I limped quite badly, and I used a cane to get myself around. I could have stuck with the Royal Mail, could’ve taken a desk job, I s’pose, but what I liked about it was the people, you know?
Not meaning to sound soppy about it, but I always thought letters were important, must’ve had about 20 pen pals when I was a lad, spent all my money on stamps, and whenever I went on my rounds, people’d know me, greet me, and they’d be pleased to see me. Who isn’t happy to see their postman?
Well. People with big bills, or pushy mothers, or whatever else – but the majority of people were pleased to see me, and I was pleased to see them.
I didn’t want to sit at a desk and do the admin in the depot. It wasn’t what I’d signed up for.
I went back to my home town, a village in the south of England – forgive me if I don’t say which one, but you’d be able to figure it out anyway, once you have all the details – and I took my granddad’s old bungalow.
My parents wanted me to be closer to them, because they’d been in pieces at me being alone in the hospital and then in my flat, being as I was at the time a confirmed bachelor, as my granddad would’ve called it, and to be honest, I wanted to be closer to them, too. They were getting on a bit, and I’d had a bad scare – and they’d never actually been fussy about me being gay, you know, just until I met Gez, they were concerned I was so bad at it, and didn’t like me being alone.
So I packed up my stuff and my cat – fat, lazy little twat called Wodehouse, who’s still alive, so don’t worry about that, although he’s 22 now and all the lazier for it – and I came home.
I’d been in contact with the pastor at our old church – Arthur, his name was, and we called him Pastor Arthur. He was in his mid-seventies in ’01, and although he was sprightly for his age, he was getting on a bit in years.
My granddad, when he was alive, also called Ray – although everyone used to call him Raymond – had been the gravedigger at the little chapel for the big village cemetery, which was across the field from the proper church. They only really used the chapel for funerals, and the bungalow was just around the corner from it – it was a nice little building built in the late 1800s, with a mausoleum sort of half-underground, and even its own bell tower. When I was a little boy, I used to walk out there on Friday afternoons and meet my granddad after school, and I’d sit in his office as he did clerical stuff and whatnot, and I’d walk home with him to have tea with me and my granny.
“They don’t call it being a gravedigger anymore, of course, but a cemetery worker,” Arthur said to me as I came into chapel, and I watched the old man’s eyes zip down to my bad hip and the way I was leaning my weight on my cane, “and you wouldn’t have to dig any graves. We get a third party to do that, anyway – they’ve a digger for that these days, and they measure out the plots and such. It’s… Can I be frank with you, Ray?”
“’Course, Pastor,” I said. “You’re the one offering me a job.”
“You don’t have to take it if you don’t want,” the old man said, folding his ancient hands loosely over his belly and looking at me seriously. It was funny, seeing him in a cardigan and a shirt – when I was little, I’d only ever seen him in his vestments, and without them on, he seemed half the size. “We get all these young kids, nineteen and twenty, who take the job for a year, and none of them have any sense of organisation. Perfectly pleasant young people of course,” he added hurriedly, in his affable way. “But perhaps slapdash.”
I chose not to mention at the time the fact that I could smell the lingering scent of weed as we went back into my grandfather’s old office.
“The chapel’s on a shortlist, you see,” the pastor said. “In the new year, the Beeb want to film a documentary here, you know – not just here, of course, they’re going into a lot of old chapels built around the same time period, and even if they weren’t, I just… Your grandfather used to run a tight ship, you know. Perfect files, everything in its place, everything quick and done to perfection. This…”
He and I stood together in the middle of what had once been my grandfather’s office, and we looked at the old chapel, the newspapers and half-finished paperwork scattered around on every surface, the half-filled ashtrays, and a bouquet of flowers wilting in the windowsill.
“You want someone you don’t have to supervise,” I said, and the old man looked at me powerlessly.
“I don’t have time, Ray,” he said. “And you know, I know I’m asking a lot of you, and if you’re not actually looking for work—”
“I’m not looking,” I said. “This’ll do me, Pastor – help an old friend, keep myself busy. So long as my leg’s not a problem.”
“The benefit of our dearly departed, Ray, is that they rarely require us to give chase,” he said. “I think you’ll be safe.”
I laughed at that.
“Show me how to do the forms,” I said, “tell me what I can do to help. Save you having to do another job interview.”
“Oh, good,” he said, sagging with relief, and he put one of his wizened hands on my shoulder. “You know, Ray, I hate job interviews.”
* * *
I’d helped my grandfather out when I was a young lad – I used to trail after him until I was eleven or so, follow him about and linger in the background as he did what he did, and then when I came to visit my grandparents when I was a teenager, and my grandfather was starting to get on a bit, I used to dig a few of the graves with him, and I’d help trim the hedges, take care of the rose garden, and all that.
He used to be so gentle with the bereaved, I remembered that.
He didn’t talk much to them, really, but he was a sort of big man, in a comforting sort of way – d’you know the sort of men that are big, but hold themselves so that they’re smaller? A teddy bear, my granny used to call him – a big, heavy bloke, but cuddly.
I was relieved, when I realised how little of that part of the job I actually had to do. There was a company who did the graves, dug them and filled them again, and even did the big hedges that went all around the graveyard edges. What I was to do was to keep on top of the more minor bits of horticulture, make sure the graves were kept in good condition, and mostly, fix up the inside of the chapel.
It hadn’t been used for funerals in a few years, Arthur explained to me, and they’d just been using the file room and the office – there was dust and cobwebs all over the short pews, more like benches than pews, really, and a lot of extra chairs and fold-out tables for the village fête were stored in here to keep them out of the way.
The chapel had its central room, with a raised stage at the front underneath a stained glass window of Saint George that was in surprisingly good nick compared to everything else, although the altar that I remembered being there when I was a kid had apparently been smashed by some teens who’d broken in a few years back, and been taken out.
In the wings of the chapel, on one side there was a records room, which kept records for the whole parish from since the chapel had been built, and half underneath it, an old mausoleum, with some inset graves that were all from 1860, or something like that. The mausoleum was half underground, but you could see its roof from the outside, albeit overgrown with ivy that crept up the walls and roof of the old building. It’s insidious stuff, ivy – once it really makes itself at home, it’s hard to tug it loose without ripping out any of the cement.
In the other wing was the gravedigger’s – the cemetery worker’s – office, and past that, there was a door into the base of the old bell-tower.
“The bell doesn’t work, does it?” I asked on our first little tour of the building. “I remember it never rang.”
“Well, I’m sure it’s a bit rusted, but the bell should be in good condition,” Arthur said, and he took the key to the bell tower, which was noticeably more old-fashioned than the others on the gravedigger’s set of keys, and he gently pushed open the door to the tower’s bottom. It wasn’t a very tall tower – only a little bit taller than a house – but it was further than you could get up to without stairs, of which there were none.
“This used to have stone stairs, but shrapnel came through that window,” Arthur pointed to the big window, which was plain frosted glass, without any stained design like most of the other chapel windows had, “during the war, and knocked out the main stairs. It was lucky there was no damage done to the rest of the chapel, really. They replaced it with a wooden frame for a long while, but it started to rot in the fifties. One of the younger bellringers fell when the first landing gave way, poor lad, and we stripped out a lot of the old stairs. We always meant to have it replaced, but we just never had the money, or the time.”
I nodded my head, looking up toward the top of the tower, where a splintering stair showed just underneath a closed hatch, the last remnant of whatever ladder had once been there.
“Was the bellringer okay?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah, in the end,” Arthur said. “Your grandfather called for a doctor – all he had was a nasty knock on the end and a sprained wrist, but Raymond, he took safety very seriously. I sometimes get annoyed at some of the risk assessment stuff we have to do, but I think about how well he’d look on it, from time to time.”
I smiled. “Safety’s important,” I murmured.
“Yes,” Arthur agreed. “But your gramps, I hope you don’t mind me saying, was a bit of a scaremongerer.”
I remembered the old man’s warnings for everything I did – making sure a ladder was steady, keeping my eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel when I was driving, checking the light was off twelve times before checking the switch off.
“Yeah,” I said. “I miss it, sometimes.”
My grandfather had died in ’92, about a decade before all this, and Arthur had sighed, and nodded his head.
“Me too,” he said, and then we walked back into the office to go over how the paperwork was done, what needed to be recorded, what he wanted kept from all the stuff in the office.
“I’ll leave you to it,” he said then. “Give me a ring if you need anything else.”
“Will do,” I said, and got to work.
For the first few weeks, I set myself into a regular routine.
I tended to work a sort of loose eight to six – I’d come in in the morning, meet up with the young lad, Joel, who worked with the digging company, and walk through the grave plots with him for the week, take in the paperwork that needed doing, make sure it was all sorted out. He actually offered when he first met me to do the mowing for me, what with my leg, and said he’d been doing it the past few weeks anyway, and I wasn’t exactly going to turn that down – I fucking hated mowing grass even before I lost a game of head-to-head with a lorry.
I’d do two rounds of the cemetery a day – once when I came in in the morning, and once before I went home in the evening, and when I walked out to the bungalow for lunch in the early afternoon, I’d keep a casual eye out.
There wasn’t much that needed to be inspected, really – when flowers were really on the way out and withered, after a week or longer on the gravesite, I’d take them away, but other stuff I’d normally leave in place. I’ve heard tales of teens messing about in graveyards, but I never had a problem with it the whole time I did that job, except for the story about the altar, and that had happened when I’d barely been old enough to walk.
A few people walked their dogs through the cemetery, but that wasn’t disrespectful in itself – the only thing that bothered me about it was when they let their dogs off the leash and let them run all about, and then I’d ask people to maybe keep them in a bit closer, but no one ever kicked up a fuss.
Most of my job was spent inside, cleaning up the chapel.
I made up a list, to begin with, of everything as needed doing – cobwebs and dust and cleaning in every room, inventory that needed doing on the tool shed, maintenance on the guttering, ivy that needed cutting back from the windows, a few light bulbs that needed changing, and so on, but that would come later.
To begin with, I started on the office.
I tossed out all the ashtrays and the rubbish first, and then I started to sort all of the paperwork, fixing the stuff that was ingoing and outgoing, the stuff that was out of date and the stuff that still needed to be completed. Apparently, the last person who’d worked the job, a young woman in her twenties, had gone on holiday to Ibiza and never come back, and this was the state she’d left it in.
Funnily enough, I think it was the sort of work I really needed at the time.
It was quiet, meditative, just sorting and organising and stacking things to be attended to, and every day I’d work out a schedule for myself. When I got up for breakfast, Wodehouse would be waiting for food; I’d do a round of the cemetery, do paperwork, go home and join Wodehouse for lunch; I’d go back to the paperwork, do one last round of the cemetery, and then I’d drop in on my parents, or go into the pub.
Everyone knew me as Raymond’s grandson, and they were nice enough, chatted in the pub or in the shop – people were a bit funny about my leg, tended to stare at the cane but didn’t want to ask about it, but they weren’t any funnier about that than they were asking why I wasn’t married.
It was nice, is what I’m saying, and I didn’t feel depressed, really, or anything like that, that’s important for you to know – I was sad I wasn’t working as a postman any longer, but I wasn’t having a breakdown over it, you know? I was just doing a job, and living quietly.
If I’d been having a tough time, if I’d been struggling, you know, or if I’d been depressed, maybe I’d have thought I was hearing things, but I felt fine, felt, you know, alright, so that’s not what I thought.
I first heard it when I was in the office, and I was on my hands and knees, cleaning out the old fireplace – there had been a board in front of it, and a few of those file boxes sort of stacked up in front of it. All the people who’d been using the office the past few years, it seemed, had been using this battered old halogen heater that ambled around on three out of four squeaky little wheels, but I like a fire place, and I remembered learning how to put a fire together when I was first in this office, kneeling on the rug beside my granddad as he showed me the coal and the firelighters.
The whispering was so loud, I almost thought someone had somehow snuck in right behind me, but when I turned around, there was no one there. I could still hear them, though – two hushed voices speaking quietly to themselves, and then the sound of laughter, like two young men sharing a joke.
Just like that, it was silent again.
I can’t quite remember what I thought about it – I suppose I put it down to the sound having travelled down the chimney from outside, or something like that. I remember I heard the sound very clearly, and I remember taking note of it and thinking it was strange, but it didn’t linger with me at first. I didn’t puzzle over it, you know.
But that was the start of it, I think.
The next time that there was something strange – this time, something frightening – it was on a Thursday evening, and it was a little past seven o’clock.
It was November, and I’d been scrubbing some of the benches in the main chapel, working some of the crime out of them. I’d been alternating between doing that and doing some of the backdated paperwork, so that I didn’t have to spend too much time sat low down, to keep the strain on my bad hip to a minimum. The cold weather was making it ache worse than usual, and it was almost always stiff. I had these exercises I was meant to do, but honestly, I rarely ever did them at the time – the only reason I do my exercises these days is because Gez does them with me.
Because I’d gotten so into the work, more time had passed than I had expected, and I did my rounds of the cemetery later in the evening that I ordinarily would. I sort of rushed about the yard with my cane, limping away, and had my lantern in the other hand – I had a proper torch on a carabiner on my belt, but I liked the lantern because it was a wind-up camping thing, and it let out a really wide range of light all around me. It wasn’t as bright as the torch was, but it gave me a more complete view of things, even if it probably did look stupid like something out of a ghost story, me limping along with my lantern held aloft.
But because the light wasn’t very bright, it didn’t stretch all that far ahead of me.
Ahead of me on the path, as I went to leave, I saw a silhouette of a man I hadn’t seen before – or at least, I didn’t think I had. I couldn’t really make out much about him – I saw that he was skinny and that he was looking down at a grave, but I couldn’t really make out anything about his face or what clothes he was wearing.
He wasn’t a regular visitor to the graveyard that I’d seen before, though, and as I limped further up the path, I said – gently, I wasn’t being a prick about it – “Excuse me, sir? I was about to lock the side gates as I left, but you’ll still be able to go out of the main one.”
I thought it was weird that he didn’t turn his head, and then…
I lifted my lantern higher, to try to see him better, and he wasn’t there anymore.
There was no sound of him running away, no sudden movement, nothing – a silhouette of a man had been ahead of me a second ago, and suddenly, he wasn’t any longer.
I’ll admit it freely: it spooked me.
Sent a shiver down my spine, it did, and I very quickly limped to the side gate to lock it. I felt cold and shuddery, feeling all my hairs stand on end, and I tried my best to shake it off as I went back to the chapel to lock up, I realised the lights were on inside.
They hadn’t been on as I’d left – I hadn’t locked the doors just yet, because I’d left my satchel just inside the door so I didn’t have to carry it around the yard with me, but I’d turned off all the lights. I was sure I had – and yet when I pushed the door open, the main chapel lights were on, and more than that, the lights in the corridors were on, the lights in the office, in the file room, even.
I went around to turn them all off, and I don’t know what it was that made me check, but it was just a funny sort of tug at the base of my belly – maybe I told myself it must have been something to do with the fuse box, lighting all the lights at once, I don’t know. But I took the big heavy key for the bell tower, unlocked the door, and pushed the door open.
When I saw the lights in there were on, it was exactly what I expected to see and also punched me in the gut, both at once.
I quickly shut the light off, dragging the door fast shut behind me and locking it again, and then I went into the office to check nothing had been touched, and it didn’t seem to me that anything had been, but…
Maybe this has happened to you – have you ever been looking for something, your wallet or your phone, and you’ve put it down somewhere, and you go through the whole house looking for it, checking everywhere, and it’s absolutely nowhere to be found? But then you walk into a room you’ve already checked three times, and suddenly, it seems almost as if someone’s circled it for you – it’s the first thing your eyes jump to, and it was somewhere obvious the whole time, and you think you were an idiot for never seeing it before?
I had a moment like that.
Standing in the doorway of my office, I stared dumbly at the fireplace that I’d spent the past week cleaning out to work on, and realised that one of the bricks was loose.
The bricks were grey, such a light hue they were almost the same colour as the cement that had glued them into place, and I moved slowly forward, staring down at the brick I’d suddenly noticed, and somehow never noticed before. I could see the gap in the cement, see the dark shadow where the brick was loose, and very slowly, still trying to shake off the willies I was feeling, I reached out and tugged it loose.
I don’t know what I expected – for some sort of monster to jump out of the gap and bite my fingers off? See a gremlin or a ghost or what have you? Maybe, I don’t know.
None of that happened, anyway.
There was a puff of old stone dust that made me cough, but inside, there were no little monsters that I could see – there was a tin lockbox, blue that was caked with the cement dust, and I had to lean my cane against the chair to use both hands to pry it out, and when it fell and hit the tile with a loud clatter, I almost pissed myself, let me tell you.
I tugged the little lockbox free, and I expected it to, you know, actually be locked, but it wasn’t.
I opened it up, and stacked tightly, bound with yellowing twine, was a stack of envelopes – the paper of the envelopes was turning yellow too, and it looked old, very old. There was no date or address on the envelopes – they all said the same thing, in a spidery, looping handwriting – and that was old-fashioned, too.
“Peter,” I said aloud, reading the name written on the envelope: at the exact same time, a voice whispered in my ear, loudly, with breath so cold I felt like an icy wind had done it, “Dear Peter.”
It shocked me so hard I jolted, shifting my weight so that my bad side buckled, and I cried out as I hit the floor on my side, swearing at the top of my lungs for the pain as I looked wildly around for whoever was there, but there was no one.
With shaking hands, I reached for envelopes and I picked them up again, turning them over, looking for a sign of a date or an address on any of the envelopes further in the stack, but there was nothing there. Every envelope just had the same name written on it in the same cramped handwriting: Peter.
I was shaken, and I quickly put the letters back into the lockbox, and limped back to the entrance of the chapel, dropping the lockbox into my satchel, and then I turned off the last of the lights and locked the chapel behind me before I made my way home.
I didn’t open the letters up right away, I’ll admit to you freely.
That night, I went back home to my grandparents’ old bungalow, and I checked that the front and back doors were locked twice, Wodehouse tubbily winding his way around my ankles the whole time, before I even took a breath to put the kettle on.
Once the beast was fed, he agreed to act as my bodyguard, and sat his huge arse on the arm of my granny’s old chair as I sat back in it with the TV on for the sake of the noise – Wodehouse had come to terms quite quickly with the fact that I complained if he sat his fat weight on top of my thighs after my accident, but he would always sit next to me like a round gargoyle when we watched TV together.
I fell asleep to the sound of his purring.
It was the last peaceful night’s sleep I’d have for a while.
Sorry, I need to take a break – speaking of the pudgy old prick, Wodehouse is currently screaming up at me from the floor, and advising me it’s time for his supper before Gez and I go to bed. He never asks Gez for food – always pesters me, instead. I think it’s because Gez has been putting him on a diet, or trying to.
I’ll be back with the next part soon.
My Return to the Half Priced Voodoo Store (Part 3)
It took me four hours to get out of Alexandra’s bathroom. By the time I finally managed enough strength to get out, Alexandra had removed my mother’s head and assured me that she was in a better place. The usual crap that gets said to you when a loved one dies. Olivia offered a hug to me and I gladly accepted. Even Tempie gave me a hug the best he could. Afterward, Alexandra let me sit and cope with everything while she went about trying to come up with a way to get Creole into a grave.
Soon my phone started ringing and what I feared happened had happened. My dad had found my decapitated mother sitting at the kitchen table. To say he was hysterical was an understatement.
“Hey, dad.” I said when I answered the phone. Pullin the phone from my ear as he talked a million miles an hour. Asking what had happened, if I was safe, who could’ve done it. Etc. “It was my boss.” I answered simply.
“I’ll rip that fucking bastard’s head off!” My dad screamed. Sighing I rubbed my button eyes with my hand and looked at Alexandra for any kind of reassurance. But she was nose deep in another book so I wasn’t going to get anything from her at the moment.
“No, you won’t dad. He’s more dangerous than you could ever know. Look, just get out of town okay? I’ll handle this. Just get out before something happens to you. I can’t lose you too.” I whimpered to him. That seemingly got him out of his murderous rage. He calmed down and became easier to talk to.
“Okay, son. If you think that’s the best course of action for us.” He said with a long sigh. It was obvious he was holding in all his pain and loss at that moment. “Be safe son. I can’t lose you again, either.” He said. A rare moment of emotion from my father. It brought a sad smile to my face. I nodded and said I loved him. He returned the favor and we both hung up. Sinking back into the chair, Olivia tugged at my jeans and forced me to look down over to her. She climbed up into my lap and hugged my torso. She’s a good kid.
“I can’t think of any way of getting King Creole into a grave.” Alexandra sighed, coming back into the living room and sitting on the couch next to us. But the annoyed frown turned into a smile when she saw the scene before her. “Come here, Livy. Let’s let Travis rest for a bit. He’s been through a lot today.” Olivia obeyed and came over to her mother.
“No, I’m okay.” I said, standing up and looking at the spot where my mother’s head had landed. Shaking it off I looked over to the street and stroked my chin in thought. “The shop is out of the question. The basement floor is stone and who knows what’s underneath the floorboards.” I sighed.
“And most likely his mother knows all too well her son’s weakness.” Alexandra responded to Olivia, sitting on her lap and looking up while her mother brushed her hair. “So luring him to a graveyard is also out of the question.”
“What about pushing him in a hole?” Olivia asked. Wanting to be a part of this conversation. I thought about it. Then realized something.
“Force him into the ground. Doesn’t mean it has to be in a grave. Hell, I can force him into a ditch and that counts as the ground.” I said, looking to the mother daughter duo. Who looked back at me with raised brows. Alexandra looked down at Olivia and then up to me.
“I have a very intelligent daughter.” She hummed with a proud smile. Her accent was just a bit more posh than usual. Our moment of excitement was cut off by a loud thud upstairs. We both looked up in terror.
“What was that?” I asked in hushed fear.
“It came from Olivia’s room.” Alexandra mumbled, looking down at Olivia. The little girl also looked up, the gears in her young head thinking about what could be in her room at that moment.
“The only thing up there is the dolly Mister King Creole gave me.” She said. Causing me and Alexandra to look at each other in terror. There’s no way. He wouldn’t dare stoop that low. Would he? The loud thuds coming down the stairs behind us quickly dispelled any doubts we had.
“You little shit!” Came a screech as something dragged itself down the stairs. Sophie, Olivia’s old mother, was dragging herself down the stairs. Only the woman was looking worse for wear. She still appeared to be half doll half human. As such, she was once again a full sized human. But some of her body still appeared to be made of fabric and the parts that were made of skin were sewed tight to their fabric counterpart. She was bleeding and unable to stand on her legs, which seemingly had no bones in them.
Olivia screamed at the sight of her original mother and clambered into Alexandra’s arms. The mother quickly scooped up her daughter and put some distance between her and the woman whose daughter she had taken. I armed myself with the only thing at arm's length. A heavy ass book. The creature called towards us as we backed up. And to break the tension, I threw that heavy ass book at her. The fact I cracked her face straight down the middle didn’t seem to bother her. In fact, she just spawned long needle-like teeth all the way down that split in her head.
“Maybe we should run,” I said quickly. Which got nods from both girls. All of us booking it out of the house and out into the streets. I headed towards the car as Alexandra and Olivia piled in with me.
“Do you know how to drive this automobile?” Alexandra asked me in a panic as I buckled myself in. I looked at her and nodded. Yea I took one semester of driver's ed. Just because I didn’t finish it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to drive. Throwing it in reverse I smashed into their mailbox. But after that, I managed to get onto the street and gun it. It might have been bumpy anytime I tried to brake, but it wasn’t too bad if I do say so myself.
“Alright, well now where do we go?” I asked the pair. Keeping my eyes on the road and praying no cop tried to pull me over. Although by my looks I’m sure that they’d probably let me go. I do look like the guy they work for after all.
“Perhaps your house? You do not have any kind of voodoo in there do you?” Alexandra asked me as she stroked Olivia’s head. The little girl was curled up, her head resting in her mother’s head. Poor girl.
“No. None except...TEMPIE!” I suddenly realized, slamming the brakes hard and searching my pockets for him. I looked back at Olivia to see if she had brought him and thanks to whatever messed up God there is, she did. The doll was busy being squeezed by the afraid little girl. I breathed a sigh of relief as I turned back to continue driving. “Yeah. Except for him, we should be okay.” I sighed as I drove us to my house.
Arriving there I saw that my dad’s car was long gone. I entered the house first, hoping that my dad had moved my mother’s headless body. He had, and I thanked him for that. Letting them in, I sat them both on our living room couch and went to go put on some coffee and find something for Olivia to try and eat. Stepping over the puddle of blood I went to the sink and washed out the coffee pot.
“She’s asleep,” Alexandra said as she entered the kitchen. Also stepping over the blood puddle and coming over to me. “How long has it been since you’ve eaten?” She asked me, looking at my pale face with some bit of concern.
“A couple of days. I don’t need to eat like this.” I said, going and starting up the coffee machine. I received a sympathetic rub of my arm. Causing me to sigh hard and shake my head.
“Try to eat something. I’ll handle the coffee.” She said with a soft smile. I responded with a defeated nod and made my way over to the cabinets. Opening them, I was instantly greeted by a familiar smiling face.
“Travis my boy! You wouldn’t believe how long I’ve been waiting for you!” He chuckled, reaching his foot out and kicking me in the face. Sending me crashing against Alexandra and landing flat on my ass. He easily hopped out of my cabinets and straightened himself up nice and good. I backed up away from him as he approached me and Alexandra.
“You were waiting here for my dad, weren’t you?!” I shouted, standing up and grabbing the first thing in arm's reach. Which turned out to be the coffee pot. Swinging it around I managed to smash it over his head, sending him back a bit and soon enough causing him to lean against the wall, covering his head as his hat fell from his messy black hair.
“Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. The important thing is that I have you and this traitor in the same place at the same time.” He chuckled, reaching down and picking up his hat. Dusting it off with some dramatic flair, he placed it back on his head with a chuckle. “Don’t worry about Olivia either. Momma always was a good babysitter.” He said with a smile, the stitches on his mouth nice and tight as he did so.
Alexandra grew pale as she looked out of the kitchen and towards the couch where she had left Olivia to sleep. But Creole stepped between us and the living room. His cane tapped on the floor with malice as he began closing the distance between him and us. I looked to Alexandra who was shaking in fear. Looking back at my former boss, I swallowed some of my fear and placed myself in front of her and Creole.
“Fuck you, Charles.” I sneered, grabbing him by the collar and slamming him into the wall. My act of bravado was quickly subdued once I was hit in the head again by a hard object. Sending me slumping against the voodoo king. He caught me easily and chuckled, patting my head with his gloved hands.
“Thank you, Alexandra. I always knew you were a good girl.” I cocked my head back in horror as he said those words. Alexandra stood with a pot in her hands. Another betrayal. And this one hurt the most out of all of them. She looked away with me, tears in her eyes as she backed away and let the voodoo creature take me away from my own house. As I slipped into unconsciousness I cursed under my breath.
“I’m sorry, Travis.” She mumbled to me. I didn’t really blame her. Between me and Olivia I would’ve chosen her as well. No hard feelings Alexandra. Although at the time I wanted to call her every swear wood in the book. But I was dragged away and slipped into the either as I was dragged out of my home.
“Wake up, young man.” A woman’s voice said. Tapping my cheek with some force to wake me up. As the vision came back to my buttons I looked around confused. This wasn’t the store or even the basement. It was another stage. Similar to the one Charles had dedicated a song to his mother from. I was tied to a chair and looked around as everything became clear.
“You. You’re Momma Creole?” I asked with a raised brow, as I struggled against the ropes keeping me bound. She smiled at me and nodded, pulling a chair out and sitting down in front of me. Seeing her in good light and right in front of her, she was certainly looking good for her age. Especially since last, I saw of her she was a rotting corpse. Her skin was tan like caramel and she had big black locks.
“Charles certainly has a liking for you. He’s a sweet boy and I’m so happy he’s made a friend.” She said with a smile and a sigh. She suddenly produced a makeup kit and padded me with it. It appeared to be a white powder. Now ever since I was turned into a voodoo puppet my skin has been as chalk-white as Creole’s. So smashing my white face with white powder seemed just pointless.
“Some friend he is to me.” I mumbled under the constant smashings of the pad. She stopped and suddenly shoved a knife blade at my face, lowering the blade and plucking at the stitches around my throat. I swallowed hard as I stood still. She smiled as he dragged the knife across my throat.
“My, he did a very good job of bringing you back to life. He really was paying attention all those years.” She smiled, pulling back and going back to cleaning me up. Producing some red paint and touching up my cheeks. It was like she was getting me ready for some kind of show. And when that thought came across my mind I instantly started to panic.
“W-wait. Is he going to make me dance again?” I mumbled, holding as still as I could as she touched up my cheeks. “Please don’t. I can’t do that again.” I begged her. She stopped her painting of me and looked at me. Pursing her lips in some thought as she looked me up and down.
“I know how painful it must feel, dear. But can you imagine what my poor Charles went through? When that whore and her thugs ripped out his eyes and cut off his head? My sweet baby boy didn’t deserve that.” She sighed, producing a comb and starting to brush my messy black hair back down into the combed state it used to be in.
“I don’t deserve this!!” I shouted at her, receiving a hard smack from her when I did so. She looked down at me like I was scum and grabbed me by the hair like Creole used to do when he was beyond pissed off.
“Know this, young man. I might have sided with you if you hadn’t burnt his store down and attempted to kill him with his own victims.” She snarled, shoving me back, and going back to combing me. Yup. She was just as crazy as her son. Maybe all those years in the dirt really sent her in a downward spiral. Or me waking her up made her grouchy.
“Momma? Are ya almost done?” A familiar voice asked from behind the stage. Creole’s face poking out from behind the curtain. I craned my neck back to try and see but it was forced back into place and I received another smack from his mother.
“Almost done baby.” She hummed, waving him away back behind the counter and smiling down at me. “You know, he’s always wanted to post one of those stories like you do. Maybe after this performance he can?” She asked with a smile. I only responded with silence. Nodding as if I had agreed with her, she stood and made her way down to the stage seats and sat in the front row.
After a moment the ropes tied around me fell off and soon the strings came back down. I stared up in horror and tried to run. Only to fall on the stage floor and look back to see that my shoelaces had been tied together. And that once again I was back in a suit. Oh, God. It was happening again.
“And now!” Came a thundering voice from seemingly nowhere. The strings firmly attached themselves to me again. Despite my thrashings and bitings at them. Soon they forced me to my feet. The familiar hard thug of them sending my body stiff and unresponsive to my brain’s signals. But they responded to someone else. “A performance of great proportions! Travis, the dancing puppet!” Came the thundering voice.
My stiff body was forced to bow before the crowd of Creole’s mother. A smile forced back onto my face and I stood at attention. The sweet melodies of a piano began. I already knew who it was, but the announcer made the obvious known.
“And the pianist extraordinaire, himself! King Creole!” The announcer shouted. Creole appearing in a puff of smoke, the melody turning into fast keystrokes as he went to town on the keys. I bit my tongue in anticipation of the pain. But nothing could prepare me for it. When the strings pulled tight and forced me to dance it was like I was tied to two horses and being pulled apart. Every swing and step I took was like a nail into each and every inch of my body.
Momma Creole clapped in delight as she watched the scene. I smiled my stupid smile as I was forced to dance faster and faster as Creole seemingly picked up the pace of his playing with every dance move I made. He knew full well how much this hurt. And he wanted me to feel each and every tug and pull of the strings.
I don’t know how long he went for but when it was finally over I felt like I was barely being kept together with shitty scotch tape. I hung limply from the strings. They were keeping me dangled up about an entire three or four feet from the ground. And it soon felt as if my arms would be ripped off.
“A beautiful performance.” Momma Creole clapped, walking up on stage and throwing her arms around her son. He smiled and chuckled as he looked over at me. Tilting his head at me and enjoying the throbbing pain I was in.
“You look good like that, Travis. Maybe I’ll keep you like that. Keeps you from snooping around.” He said with a smile, taking his cane from his mother’s hands and swinging it against my side. If the strings making me dance was like a million tiny paper cuts at once, the swing of his cane was like being thrown into a salt and lemon bath with all my paper cuts. It was blinding pain as I screamed out.
“Charles, don’t play with your toys like that.” Momma Creole tsked, walking over and stopping him from swinging at me again. “Save it for tomorrow when he feels even worse.” She hummed, kissing his forehead and pulling him away. They talked for a few minutes before leaving me suspended from the stage. In complete darkness. I’m fucking back here again. My only ally has thrown me under the bus. And here I am back with the fucking strings and forced to dance for the psycho and his mother.
I’ll get out of here. I’ll show him. I’ll-
How about, King Creole take over for a spell? Travis needs a break after all.