Oh no. Not again.
“Andy, if I hear that bell one more time, I’m going to throw it out the window!”
“No! I found it. It’s my friend.”
That’s how the conversations go on the summer youth mission trip. Someone always finds an annoying “friend.” An inanimate object that works its way into the group.
Don’t say anything. Just let it go. Maybe they’ll fall asleep.
Before I could open my mouth, a series of clunks echoed down the hallway. The slamming of metal bars woke the whole room of sleeping youth.
“What was that?”
Our whole group had to move up stairs. The church where our summer mission group was sleeping needed the space for one of their summer programs. No problem. We carted all our backpacks, air mattresses and sleeping bags up to the third floor.
The long hallway on the third floor was lined with doors that split in the middle. The top half of each was a smoky glass. Both halves were locked. The doorknobs turned, but the doors wouldn’t budge. What was back there?
We all sat up from our sleeping bags as the ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk continued from door to door.
I went to the door and looked out. “Don’t go out there!” I held up my hand. Shhh. Relax. Sit still. “Stay here.”
When I stepped out into the hallway, I saw the top half of each door ajar. It was like the whole place was suddenly open for business. I slowly walked toward the first door. It squeaked a little as it swung open. I cautiously peeked in.
I saw stacks of chairs, an erased chalkboard and two large empty trashcans. Nothing too exciting.
Feeling relieved and bolder, I moved towards the second open half-door. I took a deep breath and stepped right up to the doorway.
I quickly stepped back, pressing my back against the wall. Did he see me? I stayed perfectly still. I didn’t even breath. I know he saw me. What do I do?
I saw a few heads peering from the doorway down the hall. I frantically motioned them to go back.
I gasped. The bell’s ring lingered in the air for seconds, finally fading into silence. I didn’t move a muscle.
What was that sound? I looked down to see the floor boards rising and sinking, as if some unseen feet were walking by. I could feel the slow, steady movement of the floorboards under my feet. Whatever it was, it was moving towards the room where our youth were no longer sleeping.
I took off down the hall. I had to get there first. “Let’s go. Everyone. Out. Now. No, don’t take anything. Just go down the stairs and out!”
As the last one disappeared down the stairwell, I felt something grab my shoulder. I twisted away, dropped to the ground, rolled and got back on my feet. “Oh no you don’t,” I whispered as I sprinted towards the stairs. Two, three stairs at a time, I hit the first landing hard. Panting, I burst through the exit out into the courtyard. “Go! Run!”
Looking over my shoulder, the door behind me closed. Windows on all the floors slammed shut. A light flashed and then everything went dark.