Under the Stage

Just in time for Halloween, I wrote this little Halloween inspired story. Enjoy! 

The library is the place to be and not because of all the books either. It has a secret room that the teachers don't know about, but the students surely do. In the library is a storage room where all the musical instruments such as the glockenspiels are stored. Twice a week Ms. Juffrie's sixth grade class laboriously lugs the glocks up the steep set of stairs from the library into the the music room outside the library. Storage and room for the music class, in general, is a problem. Music is not a highly coveted part of the school's curriculum. It seems haphazard in its delivery. Even the students sense that this class has been thrown together. All through music class, Marcus, thought about the little door he saw in the music storage room. He wonders what is behind that door and what could be hidden in there. He doesn't know what is there, but he wants to explore it. So he makes a plan to find out. After music class is over, Marcus tells some of his friends about his plan.

When the class went to put back the glockenspiels, Marcus would make sure he was the last one out the door and he wouldn't close it all the way, so they could return during lunch. Just as he planned, Marcus hung back in the storage room and made sure he was the last one out the door. He left the door open a smidgen and went back to the classroom to eat lunch. Marcus and his friends race through eating their lunches and then make a quick escape to the library. The children are allowed to sit in the library during lunch hour as long as they are reading a book and being quiet. So one by one, the children grab a book and take up residence near the storage room door.

First Marcus and Paul goes into the storage room. It is dark in there until they find the light switch and they creep over to the little black door on the brick wall.  As they open it, it creaks a little. They peer in and there is vast nothingness. It is a wide open space. Marcus quickly shuts the door and he and Paul run up the stairs and back into the library. They regale their findings to the other children and no one seems the least bit intrigued by vast nothingness except for Paul. Paul wants to see what is beyond the little door, but because no one seems interested he let it go. 

The next morning Paul tells Marcus, "I want to go through that little door and see what's in there." "Are you crazy?" replied Marcus. "It looked dark and dusty; I bet there's rats in there!" Marcus told him.

But Paul wasn't fazed by that. Later that morning Ms. Juffrie took the class to the library to work on their book reports. The children  must choose an animal to research. Paul, Marcus, Danny, Lina, Kelly, and Katie all sit at the table near the storage room. Paul is getting anxious and he can't still any longer. He goes and tries the door and unexpectedly it opens. He slips in. Lina gasps and Marcus looks shocked. Marcus slips in quickly after Paul. By the time Marcus makes it down the stairs, Paul is already through the little door in the brick wall. The doorway is so small that only a child can fit through it.  Soon after Marcus slips through the little doorway, Lina, Kelly and Katie come through too. They aren't going to let the boys have all the fun. 

Once through the door, the blackness mutes their sight and they sit idle for a couple minutes to let their eyes adjust. They start crawling on their hands and knees so they won't fall; but really the ceiling is so low that standing up is impossible. While crawling they can hear people talking above them and then they hear what sounds like balls bouncing and hitting the ceiling. Lina felt discombobulated and she can't tell which was is up. She is having a hard time breathing and starts to panic. She wants out but she doesn't know which way to go. Katie and Kelly try to calm her down and put their arms around her. When their eyes finally adjusted they could see shadows of rocks and floor joists. They are under the gym.

"Holy crap, we are under the gym," whispered Paul. "Let's turn around and head back. What if Miss Juffrie is looking for us?" Marcus said.

The children turn back and head for the storage room. They go back through the little door in the brick wall and tiptoe ever so quietly up the stairs and out the door into the library. No one even notices their return and it didn't appear that anyone noticed their departure. 

"Where have you been?" Ms Juffrie asked the kids. "Uhh, ohh, we were at the back of the library...over there...looking at books of sea otters..." Katie responds with glassy eyes. 

Paul, Marcus, Lina, Katie and Kelly couldn't stop talking about what they had experienced. They blabbed to all their friends and pretty soon everyone in the class wants to through the little door and under the gym floor. At lunch, they have their chance. One by one, they slip through the doorway into the storage area, creep down the stairs, slowly open the little door in the brick wall, and slither through the opening and into the darkness that greets them.  

Once in the darkness, they wait while their eyes adjust. Then they crawl on their hands and knees so they won't hit their heads on the floor joists. It is dirty and dusty down here. They crawl so fast only stopping if someone is left behind. There are thirty-eight grade six children under the gym floor. It was lunch time, so no one was in the gym. The kids are whispering or so they thought, but in reality their voices carry and can be heard up above. 

The children make there way under the gym floor until they reach the raised stage in the gym. There is another little door, but this one is big enough to fit an adult through it. Paul reaches for the door and one of the kids screams in panic.

"Sshhhh," everyone else says. After all, they didn't want to get caught.  Paul opens the door and all these eyes peer inward while all these eyes peer outward. 

The shrieks and gasps are deafening. The children are frozen in place. This room is the horror of all horrors. Baby horses and cows in jars filled with formaldehyde. Cows eyeballs staring at them. Little puppy embryos. What was this hell they all wondered. No one said a word until Katie noticed that Marcus had disappeared. 

"Where's Marcus?" she asks. "RUN" someone yells.

All the kids go as fast as they can back through the door, then under the gym floor, and back to the little door in the brick wall in the music storage room. But the door is locked. They are trapped. 

The only way out is under the stage again. But where is Marcus? They go back under the gym floor and by now they are all screaming for their lives. Surely something has trapped them in there. No one but Marcus knows they are here and he is gone. They crawl as fast as they can back through the dark, under the stage, and to the little door with the animal parts behind it. Paul grabs the door handle and tries to turn it, but it is unmoving.  

"Oh my god, we are trapped!" shrieks Kelly.

Paul's face turns pale. If they don't make it out of there, he's to blame. The kids make a run for the little door in the music storage room again. Crawling and crawling under the gym and panicking all the way until they reach the little door. It's open, but pitch black on the other side. The kids all come out the little door, stand up right, and as their eyes adjust they hear whispering and a rustling sound. All the kids stop and stare ahead but it's so dark they cannot see. 

A flash of light off in the distance reveals the stairs out of the storage area and into the library. At the top of the stairs is Principle Torren.

"Hey kids! How was the high school science animal dissection samples? Freaky eh?" Oh ya, don't ever go down there again, a kid named Marcus went missing under the stage years ago and we never found him. His ghost still haunts the school." 

~Jennifer Ward

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