Room 471

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It was a peculiar door. It was peculiar not because it looked peculiar, but because it was so ordinary that Andrew had never even noticed it before. Room 471. Andrew had been certain that he’d explored every room in the high school, yet somehow this door had gone unnoticed.

If Andrew hadn’t been hurrying to class, he would have investigated that room right away. Room 471 was clearly no classroom. It was sandwiched tightly between Rooms 470 and 472, so it could be no bigger than a closet. Maybe it wasn’t worth it. It was probably just a tight little cupboard filled with cleaning supplies.

But Andrew had always told his friends that he had explored every room in the high school. He couldn’t let this one room get away from him.

He was hardly paying attention during his English class. The teacher droned on about The Odyssey, a book that Andrew had only read the Wikipedia description for, and the entire class stared forward with their eyes glazed over. How could he have missed that room? How could it be that he had overlooked a door so obviously placed in the middle of the hallway?

Brian and Emily were whispering to each other behind him. “They haven’t heard from him,” Brian was shaking his head. “It’s strange, isn’t it?”

“That’s so sad,” Emily frowned. “He was my favorite janitor. We would chat after school all the time.”

Andrew tilted his chair back. “What are you talking about?”

“Stevens, the janitor. He went missing last night. He never showed up this morning.”

“He’s probably skipping work,” Andrew decided.

Brian narrowed his eyes. “They called his home. Nobody answered.”

“Then he probably didn’t answer.”

Emily shook her head. “Stevens wouldn’t skip work. He was so nice!”

Andrew pursed his lips and leaned his chair back into place. He twirled his pencil in his hand a few times and pretended to take notes.

His next class with Geometry, and after that was lunch. That was when he would check out Room 471. Andrew had been thinking about that room all day, almost a bizarre amount. It’s just a storage closet. But what if there’s something interesting inside? There won’t be. It’s only a room that you never noticed.

How could there be a room that he’d never noticed?

At the start of class, the teacher read off the attendance list. Brian was absent. That’s weird. Wasn’t Brian in your last class? Why would he go to boring English but skip Geometry?

Brian’s friends were whispering to each other across the empty seat between them. Andrew couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he thought that he detected the word “missing”. For some reason his mind strayed back to Room 471.

That room couldn’t be making people disappear, could it? No. That’s ridiculous. It’s just a storage closet. It’s just a storage closet. Stop overthinking it. That door has always been there. You just never noticed it. Or the room didn’t exist before. Maybe that room never existed. Maybe you’ll leave this class for your lunch break, you’ll walk down that hall, and the door won’t be there.

It’s just a storage closet. It’s just a storage closet.

Feeling weirdly nervous, Andrew decided to eat his lunch before he explored. He could check out Room 471 later. While he ate with his friends, a cop walked through the dining commons. There were murmurs following him, murmurs with the name “Brian”. Andrew had been one of the last people to see him. How could his disappearance draw attention so quickly?

“That’s three people,” somebody commented. “Three people gone in less than twenty-four hours.”

And Julie’s name was added to the murmurs. Stevens, Brian, Julie. Disappeared without a trace. One moment they were here, and the next they were gone.

It’s just a storage closet. It’s just a storage closet.

Without really thinking, Andrew got out of his seat and started walking. Room 471 has always been there. There’s nothing in there. Just open the door, and you’ll see.

  1. 464. 466. 468. 470. Room 471.

The door was still there, right where he’d seen it earlier. Andrew was relieved, but he felt stupid. The door wouldn’t just disappear. That’s ridiculous. That’s insanity. Just look inside and you’ll see that it’s an ordinary room.

Andrew’s hand trembled as he reached for the knob.

It was unlocked.

He opened the door and stepped inside.

It was just a storage closet.

“That’s it?” Andrew asked himself, closing the door behind him. “It’s just a closet?”

But then he saw that there were people sitting on the floor, leaning up against the wall. He recognized one of them as Brian. The other two were a girl and a janitor. “Oh no,” the janitor mumbled. “Another one.”

“What’s going on?” Andrew stepped forward. “Are you people… hiding in here?”

Brian shook his head. “I wish. Andrew, this room doesn’t exist.”

“It… doesn’t exist?” Andrew repeated.

The janitor lifted his eyes and sighed, “You won’t be leaving any time soon. This room never existed. And it never will.”

“I don’t understand,” Andrew said slowly. He turned around.

The door was gone.

There was no way out.

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