The Forbidden Floor Part 1:
It had been a quiet two weeks since Henry’s murder. The news spread through the school like wildfire but the group tried their best to push it to the back of their minds. The campus library was busier than usual. As the first exams of the school year were approaching students were trying to study as much as they can before them.
Bart had his feet propped up on one of the library tables, rocking back on two legs in his chair with his copy of “Myths of Monsters” opened in his lap while he read. A few chocolate rappers were crumpled on the table in front of him. Ali could be seen at nearby bookshelves shuffling through trying to find the one he needed.
Across from Bart, Rena was leaning on her elbows with a book - that she was neglecting - in front of her on the table. Her gum bubble made a quiet popping noise as she folded the crease on a paper. Next to Rena was Sor, who was following instructions on how to properly unclog her purple Venus fly trap, which was in a small pot in front of her.
Garrett was between Trevor- who had long since fell asleep on his book and was starting to drool - and Sor. He had his arms and elbows tucked in to keep from the chance of anyone accidentally nudging him while he was reading through the chapters of his book.
Hope sat on the left of Trevor and the right of Bart, she had black smudges on her nose, that was buried in her “Magical Engineering” textbook while she was quickly scribbling down notes as if her life depended on it.
Ali returned to the table, textbook in tow. “I guess I don’t understand how these professors figure we’re suppose retain this stuff. I mean you mix a wee bit ’o spellcasting and a wee bit ’o potion crafting and next thing you know little Timmy accident gave his partner feathers. It’s a bit much, don’t you think?”
The group collectively looked up from what they were doing, straight through Ali before returning to their tasks. “Right, sorry. I hate the library. It’s always ‘shhh’ and ‘pipe down O’Malley’ and ’you cannot throw that ball i-”
“Please stop talking”, Bart chimed in while flipping through the textbook.
Ali grumbled a few choice words before sitting down in his seat once more. Sor laughed softly at her two friends, stealing a few glances at the Irish boy every so often, failing at trying to focus on the plant in front of her. A light blush on her cheeks formed on her face when he looked up giving her a cheesy grin.
Popping her gum once more Rena shut her book with a groan and leaned back in her seat, her long curly hair falling over the edge of the chair. “Guys we’ve been at this for hours. I’m tired of studying for these stupid exams.”
She turned to face Ali and Garrett desperately “Isn’t there some cool places for us to explore? Hidden rooms, dungeons, anything? We deserve a break, besides being in this library any longer will bore me to death! ” Her voice grew louder earning a ‘shh’ from the librarian.
Trevor woke with a start at Rena’s rising voice and almost fell out of his chair. He stared confused at his surroundings until his memory came back to him before wiping the drool from his mouth. He felt his face heat up hoping Rena hadn’t been paying attention.
She offered him a friendly grin noticing he had woken up. Trevor felt his heart speed up at the sight of her smile. Coughing nervously he turned his attention to the textbook he had fallen asleep reading.
Bart tilted his head as he read a passage in his book. “Did you guys know that vampires can climb almost as easy as walking or flying? Even straight vertical surfaces, kind of l-” he hesitated. He was reluctant to bring up the night that Henry died. “But it couldn’t have been that, vampires are very distinguishable with their wings and fangs and everything.” He thought to himself. He took his feet off the table. “Hey Sor.” He leaned in closer so he could talk quieter. “Vampires can’t like, you know, disguise themselves right? Like are they able to transform?”
Sor looked at him blankly and then scrunched her face as if trying to think. It looked as though this question intrigued her. “None that I’ve ever heard or know of. Vampires are always winged, ugly, and monstrous.. why?”
Bart leaned back into his chair. “Nothing. Just a dumb thought.”
“Can you imagine how silly? A vampire, in monstrous glory, taking the form of a human. Sounds like a downgrade if you ask me...anyways yes, bean, there is a place on campus that is full of adventure. We call it the Forbidden Floor. It’s in the Grim Studies building. The basement.” Ali scanned the faces of the first years at the table, studying the reactions that they gave. “Aye, but we all saaaaid we would lay low for a while. Just be typical students and the like. A shame, really.” The sarcasm dripped from his thick accent.
Rena rolled her eyes “And we have been laying low. I for one think we need to have a little fun and adventure once in awhile. Some of us need it.” She says under her breath crossing her arms leaning back in her seat once more.
“Well you probably would be having fun on a daily basis if you had tried out for Stronghold. Practices have started and it’s great huh Ali?” Bart gave Rena a large teasing smile.
Ali hit Bart’s arm with the back of his hand. “Aye man, not everyone is strong enough to handle the mental and physical strains that come with playing the game.” He glances sideways at Rena to see her reaction and was met with an unamused scowl. Hope has finally looked up from her book and a small chuckle and an eye roll.
Bart saw Trevor look down at his feet when Ali said this. Trying to recover quickly. “Yeah! But I mean look at Trevor, he didn’t make it but it may be that he needs some refinement to his skills. He’ll be with us next year for sure. At least he wasn’t too chicken to try out.” Bart had a small sympathetic smile that he aimed towards his roommate. He let out a yelp as Rena punched his arm.
The group began to wind down the study session as the library’s daytime hours came to a close. “We can always come back later. They’ll reopen around 9 I’m sure. We’ll have to get access cards so we don’t get in trouble.”
Ali looked over at Garrett with a mischievous smile on his face “I say we take them.”
Garrett pursed his lips in thought then nodded his head. There was no harm in taking their new friends down to Grim’s basement, besides, he’s done it plenty of times before. What could go wrong?
“What we are about to show you is highly restricted. I need everyone to raise their right hand. Precautions need to be made...just so none of us blab” The group, be it in jest or in good will, all went along with Ali’s request. “I hereby swear, that whatever is seen will remain in secret.”
The group repeated exchanging bewildered looks between each other, then each one noticed a symbol on their respective hand. It was an infinity symbol small enough to fit the shape of their palm.
Ali smirked. “You are bound to your word forever...or at least until I see fit to say otherwise, aye? Now let’s go.”
And with that, the group retired from the library and out onto campus grounds.
“Alright, so the Forbidden Floor is in the Grim dorm. If we get stopped or questioned, we’re here with Garrett. Just hanging out as friends on a Friday night. Clear?”
The group exchanged wary glances with each other then nodded following the boys.
“Sooo” Rena drawls out walking in step with Ali and Garrett who were leading the group through campus. “Anything you should warn us about before we get there? Dead bodies, ghosts, curses?” Though she was excited to finally be doing something adventurous instead of studying; the unknown of Forbidden Floor and Ali’s crypticness was making her a little....uneasy.
“As for warnings...listen, you’re all new students. I’m sure you’ve seen enough magical stuff back home to get a basic understanding. Some of what you’re about to see I don’t even understand. The way Garrett explains it, the experience is...different...for every person. Remember two things: it’s not real, and if you can’t sort that out in your mind...this may not be the field trip for you, bean.”
“Umm...” Bart raised his hand in a sarcastic attitude. “My bed used to literally be a bench so I think you overestimate how much I’ve seen.” Bart had become very comfortable and trusting of his friends. It no longer bothered him to talk about his quality of life before Ethelwine.
“Bart, lad, I can’t wait for you to get there. This is a whole new world.” He clapped his friend on the back.
“Are you sure this place is safe?” Sor asks walking next to Ali, her golden hair bouncing with each step as she rose a skeptical eyebrow. “It sounds a little sketchy.”
“It IS sketchy! That’s why we’re doing it!” Garrett shhh’d the Irish boy whose voice was starting to pick up.
“Sorry...I get a wee bit excited. I’ve been a couple times now, and I’m perfectly fine...right?”
The group casually snuck through the dormitory. The commons area had a few students that were enjoying their start to the weekend over food and games. The building itself was as one might imagine it: dark. Gloomy. A faint smell of sludge and poor teenage hygiene.
Across the width of the first floor was a door that led to the north stairwell. “We’d take an elevator, but it doesn’t stop on our floor...imagine that”, Ali had told the group prior.
The freshmen watched the doors for passerby, while Ali and Garrett pressed on the warped door to their destination. It creaked dreadfully before swinging wide on the hinges. “Ah...here we are.”
It was only an abandoned floor. Nothing cosmetic worth being deemed the ‘Forbidden Floor’. Some halls with some rooms. No windows however...those had long since been removed.
“This is the Forbidden Floor?” Rena asks incredulously “Are you two messing with us?” She whirled around to face Ali and Garrett with her arms crossed and a glare on her face.
Hope shares Rena’s skepticism. She peered into the doorway. “I don’t know guys. I don’t think we should be here.”
Trevor rolled his eyes “Stop worrying so much sis.” He was intrigued by their soon to be adventure and maybe to try to impress Rena a bit. “It will be fine.” He shuffles to the front of the group with Ali eager to explore this new area.
“Hey.” Bart said in a low friendly voice towards Hope. “He’s right, you worry too much. Plus if anything happens, we all have each other’s backs right?” Hope still wasn’t completely convinced but nodded her head in agreement.
Garrett and Ali looked at each other and smiled. They, too, had reacted that way on their first visit. “Why not come in? The waters warm....but really, don’t touch any water. No telling what it actually is.”
“Also, don’t mess with cobwebs or spiders. Leave them be. We don’t know how...pure...they are at this point.” Ali laughed, and began walking.
Rena and Sor exchanged unsure looks before stepping into the room, followed by the rest of the group. The nervous butterflies in Rena’s stomach seemed to get worse with each step.
Bart stepped through. “You don’t have to tell me twice about spiders.” His eyes lingered on a large web in the corner with a look of disgust. His body gave a tiny shudder as he looked away walked further in
Ali cast a spell that made a light overhead of the group. They crept through the halls with caution. Old paintings began to turn on the walls. The air was so stale. “Now, if anyone notices anything unusual, be sure to call it out.” They walked a ways, peering into rooms along the way.
There was suddenly a high pitched scream behind the group. They all jumped with Sor and Hope giving little screams themselves. The group turned around to find Bart doubled over from laughing. “I’m - orry I couldn resis” He could barely talk from laughing so hard.
Rena and Hope punched him in the arms. Suddenly there was a loud bang. The group jumped again as Bart’s smile instantly faded and his face turned a shade whiter. “Okay I swear that one wasn’t me.”
The noise came from a room with a closed door. Garrett motioned towards it and the group moved. “Wh-why would you..I mean w-we’re going TOWARDS the s-s-sound?” Sor pleaded, clearly over the situation.
The group observed the door, and another bang rang out. This continued, more rapidly, and in an instant, a carving utensil flung from behind them directly into the door. Everyone jumped. Sor screamed. The group stood frozen.
All of a sudden, the object began writing. It was spelling out a name, the scraping of the door echoing through the air:
“It’s youuuur timeee, bean” Ali said in his spookiest ghost voice. No one found this funny.
Rena punched his shoulder. Her stomach had butterflies and a nauseous feeling consumed her body.
“What the hell does that mean?!” She turned to Garrett with a glare “Why is it my name?”
“Because it wants to show you something.” Garrett said with no change in tone or expression.
“Remember, Rena...it’s not real, okay? We’ll be right out here.” Ali turned the handle, and stepped out of the way.
Rena glanced over at the group once more before walking in, squeezing her eyes shut as she stepped through, afraid of what she’d see.