Blackout Part 8
Sarah hadn’t been back at her elementary school since the blackout happened. There was no need to go there since the governor declared a state of emergency. He obviously didn’t realize how long it would last, and by the time it was evident the power wasn’t coming back anytime soon, it was summer. Everyone had given up on what was expected of them and turned to survival mode—surviving without devices, lights, and electronics.
The front entrance door was locked. Sarah rattled the handles, but they were bolted tight. She ran to the side entrance that they normally used for recess, but that too was locked. There was one more entrance she could try before she resorted to breaking a window. She had never used this door before, but the older kids went in and out when they had gym class or free periods. Some of the eighth graders used to sneak cigarettes in the darker corners underneath the staircase that led to the heavy mental entryway.
Sarah ran up the five concrete steps and tugged on the handle. It opened. Taking a deep breath, she entered the dark school, thinking where the best place to hide might be.
She had never been in the school after hours, and every shadowy hallway she turned down seemed to close in on her, making it difficult to catch her breath. Schools were scary when they were empty. No lights, no bells, no laughter, no lockers clanking shut. Sarah was near tears, wondering why Benjamin chose her and not someone else bigger or stronger. She couldn’t even walk down an empty hallway without fear. How could she save her world?
Sarah headed toward the corner of the school that she knew well, hoping it would give her comfort amidst the chaos. She found her classroom exactly as she and her classmates left it. There were books on the desks and art on the walls. The plants they had been growing were still on the windowsill, but they were long dead. Wilted stalks and brown leaves decorated the ledge. Her teacher Mrs. Drake still had notes on the board from their last math lesson. Sarah didn’t miss math.
She quietly moved to her desk and found her supplies just as they were the last day she was there. Sarah picked up her spiral notebook, somewhat missing the regularity of attending class and jotting down what she could from each lesson. She laughed at the thought of wanting to go to school. When there was power she did nothing but beg her mother to stay home.
A loud bang snapped her out of her thoughts. Sarah ran toward the closet where Mrs. Drake kept the supplies and a bag of extra clothes in case any of the kids spilled lunch on themselves. Sarah squeezed herself inside and carefully closed the door, leaving it cracked slightly so she could see if anyone came inside the room.
She heard two sets of footsteps coming from opposite directions and muffled voices when they came together. The volume of the voices got louder and at one point it sounded like someone was thrown to the floor in a struggle. There was shuffling and creaking and a few grunts and yells. Sarah tried to control her breathing. Tears filled her eyes as the fear crept in, but she willed herself to remain calm.
And then there was silence. No footsteps, no movement. No voices, not even whispers.
The door to the classroom creaked open. Someone walked toward the closet. Sarah inhaled but she was shaking with fear and was sure whoever it was knew where she was hiding.
The closet door slowly opened.