Our reflections were orange and wavy in the copper interior elevator door as we rode up to the ninth floor. Standing so close together, I could feel the cold that had accompanied Dr. O’Hanley into the building from the street rise off his jacket. I reached for Mason’s hand, jittery even just to be riding in an elevator with that Ouija board. Religion wasn’t a topic I discussed much with Mason because I knew his parents were staunch atheists, wholehearted believers in science. The one time I had met them for dinner at a fancy restaurant in Boston, they had engaged Mason in a debate about how the entire legal process in America was flawed because it was based on the principle that people actually took swearing on the Bible seriously. On the other end of the religion spectrum, I had grown up Catholic in Brooklyn, attending elementary school at St. Mary Star of the Sea. I’d never missed mass on Sunday morning until I left home for college and laziness got the better of me. I had been raised to stay out of evil’s path.
When we stepped off the elevator on the ninth floor, O’Hanley absorbed all of the details of dorm life as we strolled past open doorways on our way toward Hailey’s room. The frat boys in 9H looked up at us with disinterest; they had ordered pizza for delivery and the smell of pepperoni wafted into the hallway. O’Hanley’s eyes glanced over the bulletin board where kids had hung flyers about futons for sale and tutoring services. He peered into the open doorway of 9B, where Claudia and Bridget were applying makeup in front of their respective mirrors, preparing for a wild night out on the town. They both looked up when they heard Hailey’s key slide into the keyhole on the door of Room 9C.
Wisely, Hailey reached into the room and turned on the overhead light but stepped back so that O’Hanley and Leigh Anne could enter first. Mason and I lingered just inside the doorway at the foot of Hailey’s bed. The creepy sensation that I’d experienced the previous night of being observed had made a big impression on me. I wasn’t psyched to be back in that room again, especially considering what I’d assumed based on what Mr. Flynn had told me.
“Now,” O’Hanley said after setting his backpack down on Hailey’s desk chair, “Who can tell me what’s been going on in here?”
Nervously, I nodded in the direction of the dark bathroom. Even from where I stood, I could hear the sink faucet dribbling. “It’s usually in there. If you try to make the water stop running, another handle will loosen up and it’ll start again.”
O’Hanley raised his eyebrows at me, intrigued. Leigh Anne clapped her hands together, loving this, and the two of them walked toward the bathroom. O’Hanley turned the light on, and then leaned his head back out to address us. “Would you mind closing that door? We’ll have better success determining what’s going on in this room if we secure the space.”
Reluctantly, Hailey took a step into the room and gingerly closed the door behind her. It clicked shut with finality. If she hadn’t been afraid of her room prior to receiving my abbreviated report on the room’s history, she was clearly spooked now. Out of curiosity, Mason crept toward the bathroom for a better look.
“Alright,” O’Hanley said in an authoritative voice. He set his right hand on the faucet and announced, “I’m turning off this faucet.”
On cue, a moment later, we all watched in silence as the left knob turned just a millimeter on its own and began dripping.
“Phenomenal,” O’Hanley muttered under his breath, clearly impressed. He raised his voice. “Now, what if I were to ask you to stop that?”
He lifted his head and looked around the bathroom as the dripping ceased entirely. During a moment of empty silence, O’Hanley’s eyes darted from left to right, waiting for the dripping to commence once more. “Well done,” he congratulated whatever unseen presence was responsible for the leaky faucet.
YOU ARE READING
It’s the middle of fall semester at Commonwealth University, and Cara Oliver is the resident assistant on the ninth floor of the Hynes Hall dormitory. Being an RA means she’s exempt from paying for her private room. Better yet, she earns a stipend i...