The door made a small crack as I opened it. A thick layer of dust fell down from the top of the door. Naturally I made a step back and carefully examined my surroundings. The hallway was narrow and long. There were 2 paints along each side of the wall. Not being related to anything artistic I couldn’t identify the artists who had painted those. The wall itself was red and it had a thin white stripe on the bottom edge near the floor. Nothing out of the ordinary, except it seemed like it survived 3 earthquakes and a tsunami. The door which I was in front of was thin, out of thin wood, very carefully carved, or at least it seemed. It had a glass window but nothing could be observed from the exterior as it was very opaque and dirty. Lastly, the golden doorknob had a scratched keyhole.
Normally I would’ve entered without hesitation but on this odd occasion, I started to think about the monstrosities which that door might guard. Eventually my thought flew somewhere else and I was piecing the pieces of this puzzle once more.
As I haven’t properly introduced myself yet, I’m revealing to you that my name is Charles London (Everyone calls me Charlie). I am 16 years old and ever since I’ve been young I’ve enjoyed puzzles and mysteries and pretty much anything the mind can get which isn’t related to the ordinary. I measure 1.73 meters in height and weight about 59 kilos. My eye colour is green and my hair is light brown... From what I’ve heard, it’s called Dirty Blonde.
As far as my current adventure goes, I’m going to start with the beginning.
I have to confess that I’ve played basketball in the school gym with my colleagues for quite some time. My companion Edward was there and also Vincent who’s my rival (I guess I could call him rival, but we really are friends). We were dribbling around and shooting hoops for quite a lot. I don’t know when the time flew so fast. The last time I checked, the clock was 7:30 in the afternoon. Eventually Edward left and so did Vincent. I stayed by myself for a little longer, practicing my throw. Without realising it, the clock had already reached 8 PM. As soon as I noticed it, I went to the lockers to change myself, quickly putting on the dark-blue pair of jeans on and the white tee which I kept in my backpack. I also put on my wristwatch which was a gift from my aunt. I left my backpack there and went to the showers, watching myself in the mirror I noticed how the sweat was dropping down my cheek. I remained amazed by the movement of the sweat drops for quite some time, but eventually I turned on the water and washed my face. When I had arrived back to the locker, I was shocked to see that my backpack was gone. The boy’s locker layout was weird. It had three doors. One was leading to the gym, another to the showers and another leading to a small, cornered hall which eventually had the door to the courtyard. Luckily I found a pen in my pocketed shirt, which I forgotten about. It was there for quite some time. I also found my trusty old notebook in the back pocket of my jeans. I started to take notes.
So, I had stopped playing basketball at 8. That’s when I changed myself. The time was 8:12. So, in my absence, someone had stolen my backpack. I’m twelve minutes behind my robber then.
Checking each of the doors I realised that the door to the gym was now locked. From that I could figure out that my robber was somehow related to the school’s administration. Another possibility was that he had somehow managed to obtain the keys which lock the rooms around the school. I still don’t know why he had locked the door to the gym, as it wasn’t anything important in there. I head out into the courtyard. Never have I seen the courtyard so empty and so... lightless. Usually kids roam around like mindless zombies, looking for something interesting to happen. Never understood why there are always so many students hanging around in the courtyard.
Before I was to do anything, I tore a small piece of paper from my notebook and carefully placed it in the small place between the door and the wall (Consider revising this). That way, if anyone would open the door the gym, that paper would fall down and I could know if someone had entered the building.
I was outside.
I started to observe my surroundings. There was the shop, in which the wealthy couldd spend money for over-priced products. The shop was obviously closed. There was the building in which the psychology and the medical office were. I really considered those to be the most useless departments in the school. If somehow you would manage to get yourself an injury the nurses in there wipe with a moisten towel your wound and then bandage it superficially. I don’t have an argument for the psychology yet. Everyone seems mentally stable around here (Or at least, that’s what I’m thinking at the moment). But there it was the pathway which I was looking for: the school gates. I’m starting to walk towards them, lying to myself that I wouldn’t enjoy spending the night in this institution which I was doomed to visit for the whole year. I reached them, eventually. To my disappointment, I realized that they were locked. One heavy chain was crawling along the bars, to which a big silver lock was secured.
I started to revise my options.
I checked the doors which were leading to the shop and to the medical and psychology office. They were locked. What a bummer.
I didn’t have much of a choice by now. My only choice was to enter the school. I checked the doors. The doors to the school which I had not yet managed to explore fully were open. If I had wanted to escape, the building hosted another exit, which I could’ve used for my departure. But I didn’t want that. I had yet to find my thief. Logically, I had to verify if had not left the building yet, so I decide to head towards the hall in which the secretary’s office the principal’s office and the second exit were.
The door closed behind me as I entered. The interior was pitch black. I started to walk forward, having a mental map of the school in my head.
Telling you what happened in the next few minutes is pointless, as I couldn’t see anything except the dim lights that the randomly placed vending machines were producing.
My route lead me through the stairs, which required much attention in order to climb. Being at the first floor was much more comfortable, as the teacher’s hallway was illuminated. I followed it and walked towards the secretary’s office, turning around every minute in case my thief or any suspicious entity would want to immobilize or harm me. The hall I was following seemed very old. The school itself was old, having more than 150 years. The scenario was getting creepier by the minute. I looked at my wristwatch. It was indicating 8:27. It was getting late, my parents were probably worried. I wish I could’ve called them, but my phone was in my bag. I reached the secretary’s office without a problem, checking some classes among the way, which were opened and the atmosphere inside would make you believe that the school is haunted. Luckily, the office was opened. I carefully entered and looked around. I’ve been there in the past, as one of my teachers had administrative problems and it asked me to carry some papers for him. I wandered for some time in there, looking the papers on the desk and anything which might be useful. Couldn’t find anything except the one thing I had come in there for – The keys. I had found the key to the alternative exit. I could leave now and head home.
I rushed to the exit and checked it. It was locked. It meant that my thief had not left the school. He could have locked me inside, but the key was at me, so that wasn’t possible.
There I was, facing victory. But I didn’t know if I could call it victory. I could’ve just left at that moment and run along the dark streets straight home, but then I would’ve have lost. So it wasn’t victory. I couldn’t leave and head home. I had to find my thief.
What should I do now? Where would I be if I would be a thief? I’m silly to ask myself those questions. I’m still not prepared for a direct confrontation with the thief. What if he’s bigger and stronger them me? I’d need to find a weapon, or some sort of weapon, which could provide me defence. And I had to turn on the lights in the whole building. The janitor’s closet contained the light switched for the entire building. And it was conveniently placed about 30 meters away from my secretary’s office. I turned back, deciding that my quest wasn’t over yet.
A lightning bolt struck me when I saw it. On the secretary’s office door there was a note posted. The note was obviously scribbled fast and it had a draw with a representation of a bag. Under the drawing the note was reading:
“I have what you need. You’ve been clever so far, managing to get the keys before me was a bold move. We’re both stuck in here now, playing a game of cat and mouse. But I’m better suited than you, you should know that. I’m not going to be taken down by a student. I’ll be seeing you”
It was most shocking that the thief decided to leave me a note and not confront me directly. I could probably figure out from that that he isn’t someone capable of taking me down hand-to-hand or that he is armed. He didn’t reveal his purpose though. With those in mind, I could suspect now that he is a student, narrowing my persona search to someone from the school. Why would anyone do this to me? I don’t have any quarrels with any of the individuals from my class or from the school. There had to be a reason for being targeted.
I took the note from the door and put it in my pocket. Looking at my watch: 8:34 PM, I took my notebook and noted it. I also pulled out the same trick I did to the gym door.
“Carry on”, I said to myself. I continued to walk down the same old corridor to the janitor’s closet, having more confidence than before. Knowing that the thief wouldn’t harm me directly allowed me to be clearer in my thinking.
I had arrived at the janitor’s closet. It was locked, but I wasn’t stupid either. On my previous search to the secretary’s office I didn’t took only the key to the exit, but all I could find therefore after a long period of time in which I had attempted the different solutions to the lock, I had managed to open the door. Inside were the switches to all the lights in the school. I turned them all on and did my biggest step in catching the thief so far. Not only we were on equal ground, but if someone on the street level would notice the lights – and care about them, he could phone the police as schools aren’t supposed to have their lights turned on during the nights.
I started thinking in what should be my next step in succeeding this puzzle in which I was trapped. I had to find my thief, but I’m out of ideas. The only thing I could do was to rely on my burglar’s over-confidence and foolishness. Having that in mind, I decided to visit my class. If I would find anything of interest in there, I could safely assume that the thief was one of my colleagues, making my search a lot easier.
I did what I had in mind, not forgetting to lock the door to the janitor’s closet on my way out. While I was walking through the hall which was leading me to the class, my attention got caught by another room which had the door open. Doors are usually closed while the school is closed. I entered the room, but to my disappointment found nothing interesting inside. On my way out however, I noticed behind the door through which I had entered a relatively about 1.25 meters long wooden stick. I took it, hoping that I could use it for self-defence in case the burglar would attempt to assault me directly.
I carried on to the class and after a short period of time – 5 minutes according to my watch, I successfully reached the room I was bound to see. Inside, there was nothing out of the ordinary, except the blackboard which would serve the thief another mean of leaving a message. This time the message said “Meet me in the chem. lab”.
It was an invite to me, and one I could not refuse. The burglar was confident he could take me down, or do whatever he had in mind for me. And of course, seeing that he has written here would tell me something else – we were in the same class and that was painfully obvious.
I left, excited to meet the mind behind all this. I was too enthusiastic at that time and I started to make mistakes. I completely disregarded my surroundings and rushed down the stairs to the chemistry lab. In less than two minutes I reached it. It was the last door down a long and slightly narrow hall. The wall was red and had thin white strip at the bottom, on the walls there were hanged two paintings which were not of my interest.
I am now in the place I described at the beginning. The door is half-way opened and the interior is dark. I find that curious though, as I have previously turned on all the lights in the school. I can assume that the light bulb inside is either defected or someone has broken it. I carefully enter after the previous hesitation. On my right there is the hanger which has two lab coats on. I take one of it and use to guard my skin from any corrosive substances in the lab. I carefully proceeded forward, being as prudent as ever. Apparently, there isn’t anything here, the room is quiet and I can tell nothing from this darkness.
Not yet managing to finish my thought a flask is being thrown across the lab at my direction. It misses me by one meter.
He missed me, fortunately. I have to hope now that he won’t try that again. From the trajectory of the throw I can see that he is in the black of the class, where the light is completely absent. I rush forward, swinging the stick with my left hand left and right, shattering flasks and different glass objects along the way. When I reach the back of the class I saw him. Most shockingly it was not a him but a her. A fatal mistake happened then. I stood steady for a second trying to contemplate on the fact that I was being tackled by a girl. It wasn’t right; the thief couldn’t be a female.
And then it occurred to me. Before I could manage to raise my hands to protect my head, a heavy iron tray hit me from behind leaving me unconscious in the chemistry lab, victim to my assaulters. It seems that I was wrong all this time. I should’ve gone for the exit when I was able to.
Outmatched 2 to 1 I was defeated. And I was lying in my on fifth as stupid as ever, as I have not managed to uncover the identity of either the burglars.
I have to confess, never saw this outcome – incapacitated in a school. I guess learning often comes the hard way.