When I was a kid I was a kid. That may seem tautologous, but I can also equally say that when I was a kid I wasn’t a kid. These two statements are separated by a line – a metaphorical one, like a point on a number line. Though this number line would be one of dates. A date line, if you will. A point on a date line. A date. April 1st 1995. That’s when I stopped being a kid. That’s when we all stopped being kids - metaphorically; we were still physically children.
Some people like to make fools of their acquaintances and others closer to them on April first. I used to do it – in nineteen ninety four and previous years. In nineteen ninety five I had planned on a prank the details of which I cannot recall, but I do recall my pride in what it was to be.
But it wasn’t to be.
In school that day a fellow classmate by the name of Dan Grogan achieved two things I’ll never forget. Firstly he pulled off the greatest fooling day prank any child could have hoped to achieve. Secondly, he actually hadn’t; he was murdered.
At first we thought his mutilated body was a costume of sorts. Myself and all the other children started laughing after the initial shock; we were all aware of the day that was in it. Our teacher, Mrs Stockton, was the one to realise that something sinister was afoot. Being an adult she was far more adept at telling the difference between a childish prank and the bloody corpse of a child.
Once we realised the truth we had all crossed that line from kid to non-kid – the metaphorically point on the number line. We remained the same age in body, just not in mind. To suggest otherwise would be ridiculous. Sure, seeing the remains of our fellow classmate and friend was traumatising; it damaged the psyche of several of the children irreparably. Though to think that it would physically age our bodies? No, don’t be stupid.
The death of a friend when you’re a nine year old boy in nineteen ninety five is unimaginable to those who have not experienced it. Unfortunately many children have suffered this experience. Few though have suffered the death of a friend in nineteen ninety five followed by the death of another friend in nineteen ninety six. Few still have suffered the above followed by the death of another friend in nineteen ninety seven. Few still... well, I could go on.
The first of April was Dan Grogan’s birthday – and also mine. You may think it strange that in a class of twenty six children two shared the same birthday, but that is due to some of the heuristic fallacies your mind is susceptible to. It’s actually quite likely.
In nineteen ninety six a class of twenty five damaged children were at play in the schoolyard when Debra Ritter disappeared. It was the sixth of May – Debra’s birthday. After months of searching the authorities gave up on the Ritter family’s daughter. She was gone. To this day nobody has heard from her. We believe her to be dead.
She was only the first.
The next year on February twenty first Alex Jones was nowhere to be found after our lunch break. That was his birthday.
The twenty three remaining children from my primary school class all moved on to secondary school together, though split into new classes. This did not stop the events of February eight, when Kimberly Jacobs vanished on her return journey from Spar. All she wanted was a birthday Drifter.
Our second year of second-level education passed without a death birthday as we had come to call them. We were ready to party as if it were nineteen ninety nine, which it was. The sense of relief was yanked away harshly on the twelfth of November and with it our party plans. That was the end of Michael Maguire. He was in charge of the party hats.
Year after year passed by and one by one a member of our old primary school class vanished mysteriously. Each year it would be only one of us. Each year it would be on one of our birthday’s. Each year and every year.
Some tried to fight it. In two thousand and three Alan Blake attempted to video tape himself for the entirety of his birthday. He had begun this process two years previously. However he disappeared along with the tape.
In two thousand and five Niamh Anderson booked a flight the day of her birthday. She never arrived in departures. She presumably departed elsewhere. Destination: wherever the rest had gone – death.
The year is now two thousand eleven. There remains only ten of us. Today is the first of April – my birthday. I know that today could be my day. I take no precautions for I know they won’t work. My plans to purchase a pride of lions for protection fell through due to legal issues and I am now resigned to my fate. It may be this year, it may be next year. It will happen though and no amount of lions can stop that.
I write this to let the world know what has become of me and to add one more unsolved mystery to the tome of unsolved mysteries of mankind.
— Ed Norris.
Update: I was walking to the local Eurospar to purchase some off-brand Jaffa Cakes when a hood was forced over my head. I struggled, but quickly felt a sharp pinch in my neck followed by the stinging sensation of fluid being injected into my bloodstream. Hours later I awoke in a dark room, groggy from whatever had temporarily stolen my alertness.
As my vision reasserted itself and the light in the room grew brighter I noticed the room was filled with many people. I subsequently noticed that I recognised many of these people. I spotted Niamh, Alan and Michael. I saw a woman chewing on a Drifter that I could only assume was Kimberly. I saw Alex. I saw Debra.
Then I saw Dan. He spoke.