I awoke dizzily in a musty room. It wasn’t lit and the lumpy objects next to me cast ominous shadows that sent chills down my spine. I tried to stand but found my path blocked by a thick coat. As I pulled it off, I felt something sticky in my hair. Hoping it wasn’t blood, I raked my fingers through and tried to get the gunk out. No, thankfully it felt thicker than blood and as I looked at my hand I saw, vaguely, that the liquid was cloudy white. Baffled, I braved the unknown objects and ran my hand up the wall closest to me, looking for a light switch. Upon not finding one on the left wall, I proceeded to search for the right wall. The cold plaster collided with my hand almost instantly and I realised I could have one hand on each wall at the same time without even stretching.
A certain panic started to spread through my body; if this room (or, more likely, this cupboard) was small I would be in trouble, I’m claustrophobic…
Breathlessly, I collapsed against the right wall, feeling faint; then something jabbed hard into my back. My torch! I had forgotten about the dark, cold, cylindrical device when I had acquired access to the library lighting. One simple move of the thumb and ‘click’ again, the narrow beam lit up the whole of the room I was contained in.
It was a science cupboard- that much was clear- crammed with dark bottles of transparent hydrochloric acid which my class and I used in our ‘advanced’ chemistry lessons. But along with the classroom rubbish were a couple of unusual items: the first was at my feet: a black jacket belonging, undoubtedly, to Mr. Craig, with a smear of white paste upon it. This was at my feet and it had been the ‘coat’ that I had been shrouded in. I picked it up carefully and gazed at it sadly; but quickly focused my attention onto the white liquid on it.
“Concentrate!” I told myself, “I’m here to solve this case!” I cautiously sniffed the unknown substance (to lick or touch it would not be wise), or as I had seen from a detective drama once, might be fatal. Who knew what potions the witches of the Science Labs brew in here? A sour smell hit my nostrils; sour…but familiar.
The next object my torchlight encountered was a briefcase; the seal forced open, displaying the sparkling silver laptop tucked inside. My computer-wiz fingers lingered over the ‘on’ switch but I decided that there was nothing important there for the moment. The next two objects were a circular china cup with a computer and mouse painted on the side, like a beacon or arrow announcing some job, and a large white megaphone—
Suddenly it hit me that all the objects were Mr. Craig’s; his work jacket, his laptop, his china teacup and his megaphone. The same megaphone he used to shout prices across the room at charity events, or call “have a nice weekend” cheekily down the main corridor at the end of the tiresome weeks. Sounds we would never hear again…
Now I would have to find a way out of this closet before I started to hyperventilate and then pass out. Whoever put me in here must have known that I couldn’t stand enclosed spaces.
In the torchlight I surveyed my surroundings for an escape route but all I saw were the bottles of acid and Mr. Craig’s precious possessions. I supposed I could batter down the door with the equipment… Uneasily I lifted the heavy briefcase (now empty) and swung it towards the door. The objects collided with a weighty, and loud, thud but the door did not budge. I attempted to swing the briefcase again; the cupboard didn’t give much room to even throw a ruler, this time the impact was harder but still the door did not shift.
Again and again I struck the door, venting out my anger at Mr. Jacket’s death, but again and again the door stayed firmly closed. Exhausted, I threw down the briefcase and sprawled against the shelves. Suddenly the door handle turned and a great light shone into the room as the door opened. A lady’s form blocked my way, yet I couldn’t see her face; she was wearing a black face-mask which hid her features. Her short light blond hair was curled unnaturally tight and stood out like an eerie halo around the dark face-mask. She was brandishing a small 8-shooter gun and said in a quiet but menacing voice:
“The Boss wants you to shut up!”
Frankly, I was terrified (but could you blame me?), so I thought of only one thing to do and reached behind myself for the briefcase.
The object I swung, unfortunately, was not the light object I had been hitting the door with before. The lady crumpled to the ground in front of me, as limp as a rag doll, as I gazed open-mouthed at the power of the megaphone in my hands. Terrified I stole another look at the lady… The girl… Without the gun that now lay at my feet I could see that what I thought was a menacing lady, was only a young girl barely older than me…
I couldn’t stay, ‘The Boss’, whoever he was, using and frightening teenage girls, would be coming soon, and I was still reeling from the effect that a harmless-looking megaphone could cause; tearing my eyes away from the motionless figure on the floor, I ran and ran…away from my destruction…