“Yes, ma’am, I remember.” He saluted sharply and picked up the corner roller.
They worked hard for several hours, then it started to get dark and Deacon thought they should be getting home.
“I’ll take the brushes and rollers to the bathroom and start cleaning them out. You close cans and stuff. I have to go to the bathroom anyway.”
“Okay, I’ll be fine. I’ll light the lamp to see by, you take the flashlight.”
Deacon picked up the large, heavy duty flashlight and their various tools, piling them high, holding it all in one hand while he walked down the hall and across it to the restrooms. He could hear Kacy humming in the office, the door having been left open to air out a little of the fumes.
The bathroom door slammed shut behind him, giving him the odd sensation of being cut off. He dismissed it, annoyed with himself for letting his paranoia and superstitious fears get to him. He kept remembering scenes from The Sixth Sense about the little boy who sees dead people. Given the pervading chill in the restroom, it was an appropriate setting for something creepy to happen.
He used the toilet then started in on the paint pans, brushes and rollers, running the water on full. Unfortunately, there was no hot water, so clean up was a lot slower. Whistling as he worked, he thought he heard a sharp sound, like a door banging shut and a stifled scream.
“Kacy?” He shut the water off to hear better, nothing met his straining ears. “Kassandra?”
Striding to the bathroom door, he grabbed it, trying to fling it open with his right hand, his left holding the flashlight. The door didn’t move. Thinking perhaps it was a push door instead, he pushed hard, but the door still didn’t budge.
He thought he could hear Kacy calling to him, but he wasn’t sure. The doors were solid wood and the old place had been well insulated when Sophie’s husband remodeled it, so he couldn’t really tell. His own voice sounded muffled as he yelled and banged. Shining the flashlight on the door, he realized there was no keyhole or dead bolt on this side. He’d be willing to bet the same held true of Kacy’s office. He began a systematic search for another way out of the bathroom.
Kacy was quietly cleaning up their mess, closing cans, picking up drop cloths, when she heard the bathroom door slam shut. It held an ominous note of finality. Not wanting to be surprised from behind, she left the door open and made sure she was facing it while she finished her clean up, the hairs on her neck feeling creepy-crawly. She had turned partially away from the door when it banged shut. She screamed involuntarily as it did so.
“I swear, if he’s playing some kind of sick joke on me, I’ll kick his ruddy arse!”
She stormed across the room, tugging and pounding on the door. Her voice didn’t seem to carry very far, but she yelled anyway. The door was an old fashioned lock on a flange which came across the door jam. It had no dead bolt or key hole on the inside. She was trapped.
She thought of calling Deacon and chewing him out for locking her in the room, when she saw her phone was completely dead. She’d been too preoccupied last night to put it in the charger. The desk phone had no dial tone.
With her lantern in hand, she set about looking for a way out of the room, but the windows were covered with metal bars on the outside, she had hardly noticed before. Digging in her desk produced a screwdriver and a hammer, but little else of any use. The closet had even less to offer, just a lot of dead Palmetto bugs and dusty old papers.
Going back to the door, she wondered why Deacon hadn’t let her out yet, when it suddenly occurred to her that maybe he couldn’t. Perhaps he hadn’t done this, suppose someone else had? They could be trapped in here. If someone set the old place on fire, they would die.
Banging and yelling at the door in panic, she screamed Deacon’s name to no avail. They were trapped until someone let them out. Determined not to give in to her fears, she hunted more, going back over the same territory, to see if there might be something she had overlooked.
Deacon explored the small windows of the bathroom and determined he could never get through them. Even if he could open them, they looked painted shut, a quick flick of his measuring tape convinced him that his shoulders wouldn’t fit, no matter how hard he might try. Reaching a hand to his belt, he went to grab his cell phone and realized, with a lurch, that he’d left it in the car. Fat lot of good it would do. Maybe Kacy’s would be in better shape and she could call. Maybe someone was already on the way.
This was getting her nowhere, Kacy decided after about ten minutes of futile struggling with the window, which had carelessly been painted shut years ago. She had nothing to pry the paint out of the seams. Deacon had been using his knife, but taken it with him when he’d gone to the bathroom.
Deciding that she was stupidly wasting her energy, she sat down in the middle of the floor, trying not to think about fires. She had always feared dying in a fire. After witnessing Pete’s accident, and the extent of his burns, she was even more terrified.
There had to be a way out, there just had to be! Leaning against her desk, she closed her eyes and tried to focus on the problem. That was far worse than having her eyes open, since she could imagine all kinds of horrible things creeping up from behind. The thought of ghosts sent a shiver up her spine. She was quite superstitious where old buildings like this were concerned, having had her own share of eerie experiences in them.
©2021 Dellani Oakes