It was nearing midnight. The sky was dark with promises of a brighter tomorrow, and the stars were gleaming brightly. Not that it mattered, though. Lauren Peskin, along with nearly three hundred other students, were staying overnight at school to take part in the annual Hockey Challenge. It was a hockey tournament that students at her middle had been attending for thirty-six years now, and Lauren was optimistic. The time revealed that they still had seven and a half hours to the seven AM pick up, yet it felt like they should be going home already.
“Gettin’ bored yet?” asked Cassidy, plopping down on the wrestling mat next to Lauren. She had a few cookies in her hand, offering one up to Lauren.
“No,” Lauren declined, shaking her head gracefully. “Thanks, though. How’d you even sneak them through? The parents are patrolling the halls like hawks.”
“With ninja-like skills,” laughed Cassidy, catching a falling crumb and popping it back into her mouth.
“Nice,” Lauren chuckled, scanning the wrestling room they were being forced to stay in. She was having a good time creating her own fun with her friends, but as much fun as she did have, she sure missed her phone and cozy house. She could just imagine what her dog Porsche was doing. Probably licking Josh’s face, she thought with a snicker. It was always funny when the family dog grossed out her brother. It provided quality family entertainment.
Cassidy and Lauren both looked up when the rest of their social group waltzed into the designated sleeping area, sweaty and energetic from their hockey game.
“Did’ya win?” Lauren asked with a yawn.
“You betcha!” smiled Elyse. She threw her hockey stick into the corner with the rest of their belongings. Right as she was about to turn around she stopped, staring down. “Where’s my blanket?” she muttered, sorting through the mess that has accumulated.
“This one?” asked Cassidy, referencing to the animal-print blanket lying gently across her lap. Elyse sighed and walked over, pulling it over her slightly.
“Yes, thank God,” she said. “I thought someone had stolen it.”
“Oh, the people at this school…stealing? I can’t imagine it!” Jaimee laughed sarcastically. “Imponderable.”
“I know, right?” replied Cassidy, scooting over to make room for more of their friends to come over and sit down. “It’s not like that would ever happen he-”
Three rapid knocks: that’s all it took.
The wrestling room was up in pandemonium. Girls were holding onto their smuggled bags of chips, energy drinks, and pillows, all staring at the door, fear dotting their faces.
“What was THAT?!” panicked Jauren, glancing around the room. The wrestling room had hardly any windows, and the small amount that there were, were all the way at the top of the wall. No human could reach up there without a ladder.
“WHAT IS THAT?”
It seemed that every girl in the wrestling room was panicking, and for the first time all night, the chaperoning parents weren’t doing anything about it. Must be close to their bed times.
“Calm down,” sighed Natalie, standing up. She was trying to act brave, but she sure didn’t look like it. “It was probably just the wind.”
“The WIND? You have got to be kidding me,” choked out Jaimee. “The wind doesn’t make noises like that.”
“Yeah, seriously,” agreed Cassidy, pulling the blanket up closer.
All of the girls in the room started retreating from their defensive stances and sitting back down on the floor. The chatter quickly restarted like a beautifully conducted orchestra, which calmed everyone down just a notch.
Natalie sighed. “Maybe it was the-”
Three short knocks echoed again, clearing up any uncertainty on the hunch of whether or not it was just the wind.
“That’s. Not. Wind,” enunciated Elyse, hopping up from the floor. She was grasping Cassidy for dear life. Every other girl in the room seemed to have the same idea, and all were up and about, and slowly backing up towards the door. Their faces were stricken with fear at the thought of an ax-murderer, or perhaps a serial killer at the back door. Jaimee was clutching on to Lauren for reassurance, and the rest of the girls were standing in a central circle as if it would help against an enemy.