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Darkness envelops me in the tiny closet where I am pressed flat against the wall behind a bookshelf. The only light I can see is a miniscule sliver of light coming through the cracked closet door. Closing my eyes I listen, but the only things I can hear are the ringing in my ears and the wild pounding of my heart. I begin to hope that maybe they already left this building, thinking I went elsewhere, but then I hear footfalls coming down the hall, stealthy yet unmistakable.
Slowing my breathing, I attempt to press myself even flatter against the wall to become one with it, become invisible.
The footsteps slow as they approach the closet; a light bounces across a crack in the door.
They are looking for me.
I stand statue still, hold my breath, and look straight ahead.
The old door creaks open.
A flashlight beam enters the closet, searching.
I’m breathing so shallow barely any air enters my lungs.
The person comes closer and I can hear his heavy breathing. He is going to find me.
Footsteps shuffle closer.
“Jason!” The light vanishes and he jogs down the hall, his footfalls fading away.
I suck in a shuddering breath, welcoming the wonderful feeling of a full intake of air into my lungs. I’d been so sure that he was going to see me, but thankfully he didn’t. I put my head in my hands, thinking, and attempt to calm my stampeding heart. I could try to sneak out and escape, but no, there were already so many people searching in this building that I would never make it out without getting caught. That would be very bad.
My head whips around. More people are coming.
They’re coming from the opposite direction Jason had left and enter from the far side of the room. From the amount of noise it sounds like there are at least five of them. Shuddering I press my arms to my side and wait.
“Where’s Anna?” whispers a guy’s voice.
“I don’t know, moron, that’s why we’re looking.” says another.
“She’s got to be here somewhere. I’m positive that I saw her come into this building.” A girl’s voice this time, louder than the others.
“Keep it down!” That was the second voice. “Make sure that you check everywhere thoroughly. We’re not to leave anyone unfound.”
The group starts at the far end of the room, scraping chairs against the floor, moving boxes, and opening doors. One by one I can hear the doors slamming shut, and with every slam that brings them closer to my door is a slam of my heart against my chest twice as fast. I shift slightly, my leg cramping from its position.
That one was right next door.
Please don’t find me, please don’t find me, please don’t find me…
Once again a flashlight beam enters the closet, moving slowly around the room. I stand statue still and don’t even dare to breathe.
“Alright she’s not here, go check the other floors.”
When I can no longer hear their footsteps down the hall I sigh and pop my neck. I can’t take much more of this. I slide down the wall and crouch on the floor in the darkness and silence. My mind starts to wander and imagine things. Like what if there is a spider right beside me about to crawl up my leg? Shivering, I rub my arms as it begins to feel like little insects are crawling all over me.
Think about something else.
I can’t though, and it seems to make my mind go even more berserk. What if there is a ghost in here and it grabs me? Or what if I start hearing weird noises? Or what if—
Suddenly the door creaks slightly and I freeze, my entire body tensing up. Holding my breath I listen but hear nothing. What was that?
My heart resumes its pounding pace and I wait, but still hear nothing else. Letting out a sigh of relief I console myself that it was nothing. Doors creak all the time…right?
I hear a slight intake of breath and my heart stops.
There is someone in the closet with me. I know this, but not because of the almost imperceptible noises that I hear. I can feel them.
Or is it just my imagination? My imagination is running so rampant right now that I no longer know what is fantasy and what is reality.
There it is again! So quiet that I almost can’t hear it. At any moment my heart is going to explode. The other individual and I stay in silence with nothing but our barely audible breathing. My hands begin to tremble and I bite my lip to keep it from shaking as well.
A shoe scrapes against the carpet.
Why can’t they just find me already? Or do they even know that I’m in here?
My eyes slide closed and I focus on listening; the breathing is closer, inches away.
The minutes tick by, I don’t know how many, five, twenty, forty? To me it seems like an eternity.
Are they still there? Am I going insane?
A shuddering breath escapes my lips and I turn to stone.
What if they heard it? I’m so terrified I want to cry.
Slowly I shift my head forward to peek around the bookshelf. I have to know if someone is there or not. Inch by inch my body leans forward.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
I scream and jump backwards, knocking over a stack of boxes that scatter to the floor in a huge explosion of crashes.
Laughter erupts in the closet and I glare at the source, still trying to recover from my fright.
“You should have seen your face! That was awesome!”
Recognizing the voice I huff and spat, “Thanks a lot Bryan! Now I’m going to be traumatized for the rest of my life!”
Offering a hand he helps me to my feet and then runs out of the closet.
“Hey, everybody! I found Anna!”
I trudge out of the closet and follow Bryan downstairs to base.
He’s grinning as he enters the room. “Alright, Anna won, who’s ‘it’ next?"
Cornish, New Hampshire
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