The Room (a Halloween Tale)
The locked room at the end of the room.
How curious would you be?
What was in the forbidden room?
Twelve-year old Robbie McCalihan crawled around the dusty floor of the attic peeking into trunks and boxes to see what surprises lay within them while he searched for something that he could wear for Halloween. His father told him he could explore anywhere he wanted except the locked door at the end of the room. Robbie had seen that door many times when he and his father came into the attic to store something or get holiday decorations and he had often wondered what was in there. Each time he asked, his father simply repeated that he was to stay away from it.
As he moved about, he found himself getting closer and closer to the forbidden door. The lock on the door looked ancient and Robbie wondered if he could break it with something. Shakily, he reached out his hand and touched it, feeling the rough unpainted wood. He listened for a long time to see if he could hear anything coming from the room. There was no sound except the patter of the rain against the roof. Curious, he grabbed the lock and pulled to see how secure it was; the lock broke in his hand and the rusted loop fell loudly to the floor.
Robbie froze and listened for any sound that might indicate that his father was coming. All was quiet downstairs and he breathed a sigh of relief. Shaking but curious, Robbie pulled the hasp, grabbed the door loop carefully and turned it. It moved as though it had just been installed. He pulled and the door opened with a loud creaking noise. Robbie peered inside the room but It was too dark to see anything.
He opened the door, but it was dark inside.
He remembered that there was a flashlight mounted at the top of the attic stairs. He moved through the dust on the floor to grab it from its holder. Robbie was relieved when it came to life the moment he turned it on. Back at the door, he slowly shined the light into the darkness. The tiny room appeared to be completely empty except for a wooden rocking chair that sat in the very middle. There were no windows, no other doors, and no other furniture, not even a light or light switch. Robbie crawled through the door and sat down on the dusty floor trying to figure out why his father had told him he couldn’t go into this room.
Suddenly a cold breeze blew across the room and slammed the door behind him. Robbie turned and tried to open the door but it was locked from the outside and he couldn’t budge it. He screamed for his father to come help him, but his father was on the first floor and if he hadn’t heard Robbie drop the lock or heard the door slam closed, he doubted that his father could have heard his calls for help.
He sat back down on the dusty floor and studied the rocking chair. It was a full sized chair and nearly touched the roof of the tiny room. Without knowing why, Robbie made his way to the rocker and awkwardly pulled himself up to sit in it. As he settled himself in place, the chair began to rock of its own accord. Robbie tried to get out, but found that he was trapped as the chair rocked faster and faster pounding the roof as it swung upright. Robbie screamed again for his father to come help him, but the chair just kept moving faster and faster until Robbie found himself growing sleepy. It wasn't long before he fell fast asleep.
What would you have done if you were Robbie's dad?
Would you have relocked the door?
Robbie is missing
When Robbie didn't answer his call to supper, Mr. McCalihan went to the attic to see what was keeping the boy. After all, how long could it take to find a costume when there were trunks and boxes filled with old clothes.
The attic ladder was still down and Mr. McCalihan could see that the light in the attic was still on, but there was no noise. He carefully climbed the ladder and gasped when he discovered the flashlight was missing from its usual hook near the top. He crawled through the room following the trail of Robbie's knees in the dust that led directly to the little room. The door was open and the flashlight was sitting just inside the door. Robbie, however, was no where to be seen. Angry that Robbie had disobeyed him about the room and then disappeared to avoid punishment, Mr. McCalihan picked up the shiny lock. How had Robbie opened it, he wondered, there had never been a key. Mr. McCalihan re-locked the door, checked to be sure it was secure, and went to find Robbie wherever he might be hiding.
A year later....
That night, Mr. McCalihan caught pneumonia being out all night long in the rain searching for his boy. He died a few days later. A year later with no relatives left and the boy unfound, the state claimed the property and sold it to the Greely family. They had a twelve-year-old boy named Brian. The family was tickled to get the house at such a good price and Brian was tickled that he'd be able to explore the dusty attic with all the previous families treasures.
One day, while Brian was exploring, he found a small wooden door with a very rusty lock. He pulled the lock off and carefully opened the door. Inside, he could just make out a large rocking chair.
When Brian didn't come down for supper, his mother went upstairs to see what was keeping him. She found the door to the little room open and empty. Brian was no where to be seen, but she thought she could hear the whispering and giggling of two young boys drifting through the dusty air of the attic. Brian, like Robbie, did not come home.
© 2011 Cheryl Simonds