Late at night, after the cleaning crew had finished, graduating high-school valedictorian, Helen and her best friend, crept along the school corridor. They carried mobile phones illuminated as flash lights and grocery sacks filled with used jeans and shoes which they had obtained from Goodwill. The familiar spaces loomed eerily at them and they shivered partly from fear and partly from excitement. In the half-light strange shadows moved across the walls and familiar colors were muted into grays and blacks. They entered the girl’s toilet. They placed a pair of old shoes and scrunched down pants in front of each commode, locked the cubicle and squirmed out under the partition.
They crept back past the row of classroom doors to the elevator and stair lobby. Graduating seniors are permitted to use the elevator and so they called it. It arrived and ponderously opened its doors. They entered and glibly pressed the button for the ground floor, however the elevator did not stop at ground it went on to a lower level. During school hours this level was blocked, but now the elevator stopped and opened its door to a completely new world. Helen shone in her light to reveal a long passageway with pipes and cables bracketed to the walls and running overhead. At this point the prudent might have retreated back into the elevator and re-pressed the ground floor button; but Helen and her companion were still basking in the thought of a mission accomplished. Each wondered whether the passage led somewhere, to secret rooms, a concealed vault, something mysterious, somewhere that, during their twelve years at the school, they had never even dreamed of its existence.
“Let’s see where it goes!” said Helen. Her dumbstruck friend nodded in agreement.
They stepped into the gloom. The elevator doors closed and for a moment they felt fear gripping them, but then a light, probably triggered by a motion detector, went on. The place didn’t look so spooky now. The two girls began to walk. After a hundred yards or so the tunnel split. They paused for they didn’t want to get lost. While they were debating options in whispers they both started for they heard the sound of footsteps coming towards them. There was nowhere to hide, so they stood holding hands waiting for whoever or whatever was approaching.
“I wish we hadn’t come.”
A figure appeared in the gloom and as it approached it began to materialize into not a ghost, or a zombie, but into the figure of a man. The girls were still filled with fear for meeting a strange man in a hidden tunnel which no-one even knew existed didn’t seem like a good situation. What if he turned out to be a rapist or murderer who inhabited this underground domain? When he got close enough for them to see his face they saw that he was wearing the uniform of a school night-guard. He carried a gun in a holster on his hips.
“What are you two doing here?” He asked. His voice was kind but stern.
“The elevator doors opened, it was the wrong floor. So, we entered.” Came their lame reply.
“This place is OFF LIMITS.” He said. “I need your identifications asap.”
Right there in the tunnel he took their names, class, addresses and contact information. He wrote everything down in a small notebook which he balanced against the wall. Then he hustled them back to the elevator and escorted them out of the building. They parted in the parking lot and each drove home in haste.
Helen’s heart beat was still elevated when she got home. She decided that she had better confess to her mother immediately, for she expected severe repercussions the following day.
“I shall probably be de-frocked” She told her mother. To her surprise her mother wasn’t angry, indeed quite the opposite, she clapped her hands and said,
“I love spunk! Bravo! Don’t worry about school. You are graduating that’s all that’s important.”
By morning Helen and her friend were calm enough to be able to enjoy the conclusion of their prank. At morning break a crowd of girls stood in line looking at a row of locked doors. After a while, they became impatient and several stooped to verify occupancy.
“Someone’s wearing the ugliest shoes!” came a comment from the class favorite.
“They are all wearing gross shoes!” agreed someone else.
“Who are they?” came their collective cry.
The conspirators stood in line smiling sweetly.
As for the rest of the accomplices’ nocturnal adventure there were never any repercussions it was as though it never happened.