10.7 Spooky Door

by Matt P.

Groups of people have an energy to them that reflects their mood and circumstances. It’s why politician press the flesh, and why sometimes everyone in a room can tell when a couple has been fighting. It can be heard in the tone of their voice or seen in the movements of their body or eyes, but it can also be felt. Sometimes it comes off of a body like electricity and crackles in the air with anger, or radiates from them in soothing waves of their happiness. And sometimes, like that Monday when Siobhan and Antigone walked in to school in the morning, it is a tension so tight that it seems to scream.

“Jesus, it’s like everyone’s just waiting for something else to happen.” Antigone muttered as they walked through the sparse crowds in the entryway. She had felt it first, more sensitive to emotions than her sister—but now Siobhan could feel it as well, like a pressure on her skin.

“Can you blame them?” She asked quietly as they walked toward the cafeteria. They were almost always early enough to get some breakfast in the cafeteria, or at least drink coffee. Well, Siobhan drank coffee she brought from home most days unless they walked to a nearby shop that seemed set up just to cater to caffeine addicted high schoolers.

“No.” Antigone said, as they moved to the line at the snack cart to get a muffin or muffin-like thing. Siobhan sipped her coffee out of a tumbler labeled ‘Rat Poison’ that had a comically deceased rodent on it. “Between us getting attacked at the anti-psychics, this, and the general weirdness of town, and there are still police upstairs…I don’t. I wonder if everywhere is like this, or if it’s just here because of the attack.”

“Everywhere is a little on edge.” Lacey offered, as she came up to them in line, giving a winning smile to people behind them in order to assuage any accusations of cutting.  “But I think it’s worse here.” She then turned half-way back to the cart to glance at the day’s plastic wrapped offerings. “So, are you going to tell us what happened?” She asked, as Monica finally came up.

“You could have waited for me to park the damn car, Lace.” Monica grumbled.

Lacey pouted, gesturing. “I saved a spot in line for you!” She protested, which drew a snort from Siobhan. Monica glanced at both twins meaningfully, before she looked back to the short blond. “Fine, I mooched their spot in line. But the end results are the same.”

They advanced through the line and bought their goods (a muffin and water for Antigone, a plastic wrapped cinnamon roll and an orange juice each for Lacey and Monica, and a Pop-Tart for Siobhan), and stepped away. “So.” Monica offered after a minute, her voice holding no teasing or banter. “Are you going to tell us what the hell happened, or are we going to have to waterboard you for it?”

“What?” Antigone sputtered, almost choking on some of her water, while Siobhan raised an eyebrow.

“Do your worst. You think dad didn’t teach us SERE? You get name, grade, and student ID number, nothing else.” Siobhan said, sticking her chin up proudly. “Siobhan Richards, Sophomore, B14-6465.”

The tall dark skinned girl and the short blond one both stared at the twins for a moment, before Monica laughed and Lacey looked confused. “Isn’t Siri the name of the iPhone lady?” Lacey asked, while Monica snorted.

“No way your dad taught you SERE.” Monica said. After a moment, Siobhan was forced to give a sheepish grin.

“No, he didn’t. It’s evading and resisting capture and torture, Lacey—S E R E.” Sibohan spelled out. “And no, he didn’t. But it was a good line.”

Antigone smirked. “And you finally got your student number memorized, after only most of the first semester.” Siobhan pumped her fist a little bit in triumph at that accomplishment, before Monica interrupted by leaning in and flicking both of them on the ear.

“And you almost managed to change the subject, too.” Monica said. “But come on. We all passed out, but when we woke up you were there with some lady who looks really familiar, and then we were all passed out again. But then when we woke up you still weren’t there, because you were already talking to the police. So something happened, and I want to know what it is.” She wasn’t mad but she wasn’t giving ground either, and the volume of Monica’s voice had risen a little bit with each sentence. If she kept going then it would be at a shout before too long.

Siobhan looked around, and then shook her head. “Not here. Is there somewhere we can go, a teacher who doesn’t lock the door?” She asked. Both of their friends had been at the school longer, and considered before they shook their head. But after a moment of deep thought Lacey raised a finger.

“What about the spooky door?” She asked, looking to Monica. “No one ever goes there, ever since that senior that liked to make out there graduated. Or went to prison, I can’t remember—we were freshmen.” She explained to Antigone and Siobhan in a way that did no actual explaining. Monica, meanwhile, nodded.

“Uhm…isn’t the spooky door upstairs? The one our brother found?” Siobhan asked for clarification. Lacey smirked and shook her head, beginning to lead them out of the cafeteria.

“No, that’s the terrifying chalk circle of doom.” She explained. “The Spooky Door,” she continued, and Antigone could hear the capital letters of importance, “has been here for decades. It’s down the stairwell in the back that no one uses. They don’t use it because it only goes to a little room with a locked door in it. We assume it’s either haunted, or the janitor’s sex dungeon.”

“If we’re taking votes on which we hope it is…” Siobhan offered ominously as they walked along, “I know which I’m voting for.”

The walk did not take very long at all, down in to the basement where the language classes all had their rooms for some reason, and past the special education hallway. Tucked in to the back there was a staircase behind an unlocked but obviously disused door. They walked through, and as they went down the ambient temperature dropped noticeably.

The stairwell did end in a small room, with no door from the stairway side and only a single bulb set in the ceiling. The bulb was on but dim, and flickered every so often with an audible click. The walls of the small room must have once been murals, but now they were faded and covered in dust and graffiti, and impossible to make out. Here and there were a line and a swoop showing clear artistic talent, but that was it.

The Spooky Door earned its name. It was set in to a bare wall, a wooden door covered in faded and patched black paint—or possibly the dark blue of oncoming night. White specks that could have once been a motif or drawing, or might be mold of some sort, decorated the front. The only thing that could still be made out as a purposeful decorating theme was on the wooden frame, where flowers were carved and still flecked with paint.

“We brought down a botany book one time last year when we were bored.” Monica explained, pointing to the flowers. “Purple violets, and different colored poppies.” She pointed to each kind of flower, and then shrugged. “No idea why. It isn’t on the plans—those are public records.”

“You searched public records because you were bored, and you think we’re weird?” Siobhan asked with a snort. Antigone looked at the door in deep consideration, stepping toward it and reaching out with her fingertips to brush it. The moment her fingers touched the wood they felt warm, and a slow breeze moved impossibly through the small room.

“Whoa…” Siobhan started, looking at her sister. “Annie…” She began, before Antigone interrupted her.

“Is it…open?” Antigone asked softly, reaching her hand down toward the handle. She closed her hand around it and found it warm, and the wind blew gently again. The door started to open almost absently, as if it was doing so casually—just a crack, the briefest sliver showing faint and silvery illumination beyond.

“Annie!” Siobhan said quickly, putting her hand on her sister’s shoulder. The moment they touched the door slammed shut with a bang, and a layer of dust fell off of the walls. The room reverberated with the slam before it echoed with a great depth of quiet, and all four of them stared at each other.

“You know, my parents wanted to move to Topeka last year, and I wish we’d damn well done it.” Lacey said in a voice that was as reverently quiet as it was deeply terrified.