Last Week’s Memoir #6
Art by Paul Rios
Editor’s Note: The Last Week’s Memoir series is a collaborative story written by Jake Corbin, Bryce McEfee and Paul Rios. View previous LWM Serial No.1 entries to read the story from the beginning.
Without saying a word, one of the men grabbed the end of the mattress Andy had previously been holding. The other man, whose face looked like it was incapable of smiling, acted as the leader, guiding the two across the room and towards the wall opposite the doorway Andy and Larry had entered.
“Are they just going to lean the mattress up against that wall?” Andy thought while watching them approach the metal paneling on the other side of the room. “I could have helped do that.”
As Andy went to punctuate his internal sentiment with the traditional “Oh well, whatever” head shake, the sound of metal gears springing into motion echoed from the other side of the room causing him to flinch. Although the lighting wasn’t very bright—one of the overhead panels kept going in and out, causing an almost disco-like effect in the right corner of the room—it was clear the wall was opening up.
“That’s new,” Andy found himself saying out loud.
As the large metal panel slid to Andy’s left, light poured into the atrium like the beam from a gigantic flashlight. The hidden room was almost overly lit; it reminded Andy of the surgical room he had his shoulder fixed in a few years back. People were crossing back and forth, hard at work on something. Nobody bothered to look in Andy’s direction. To them, all of this was, apparently, quite normal.
Larry and the mystery men quickly lifted the mattress into the room and turned right out of Andy’s site. As soon as the trio passed through the opening, the metal door sprang back into motion and began closing. Before Andy could so much as say “I guess I’ll wait here then,” he was alone. The room fell silent except for the electrical flicker of the dying overhead light and the uncomfortable shuffle of Andy’s sneakers.
Minutes seemed like hours as Andy hung out by himself in the high-ceilinged warehouse. Bad memories of trying to look cool all alone at the school dance came flooding back as Andy awkwardly postured against the wall, attempting to act as if he wasn’t bothered by his current situation.
“Let’s go, Larry,” Andy murmured impatiently to himself.
In an effort to take the focus off of the panic attack that was now slow-brewing in his stomach, Andy started checking off items on his mental grocery.
“Let’s see… Cinnamon Toast Crunch, coffee beans, bacon, milk, popsicles, hummus, pita bread…”
“What was that?!”
Andy jerked his head to the right towards the metal doors encasing the room Larry had been spending way too long in.
“Calm down,” Andy thought. “It’s all in your head. You didn’t really hear anyth…”
NO! NO, NO, NO!
Andy definitely heard that. It was muffled through the wall, but someone was definitely yelling. Andy’s simmering panic attack was now reaching a boil. Without thinking, Andy ran to the other side of the room towards the hidden metal door. He was ready to grab Larry and get the hell out of there—screw good customer service. His panic attack worsened as he fumbled around for a way to open the door.
“There’s no handle on this damn thing!”
Andy was shuffling back and forth, hands flailing, looking for some kind of opening mechanism. Had he been trying to block someone’s jump shot, he would have been doing well.
WE CAN HANDLE THIS ANOTHER WAY—I SWEAR!
Andy thought that might be Larry’s voice. His hands started to tremble; he could feel the panic taking over his system.
The sound of metal gears. Andy had brushed against a small raised button—same color as the metal slabs—and the doors quickly opened. The bright lights of the secret room greeted Andy once again, but this time so did several guilty stares.
Andy had walked into something he shouldn’t have. Four men, including the two mystery men, had formed a menacing half-circle around Larry. Mattresses were stacked from floor to ceiling to the right. Several observation rooms lined what appeared to be a limitless hallway straight ahead. And to the left, there was some type of machine and several workers fiddling with computer chips.
“What the fu…”
Andy couldn’t finish his sentence. A blonde woman, roughly his same height, suddenly appeared from the right and scared Andy to a stop. She was attractive, which briefly put Andy at ease, but her smile was unnerving. She reminded Andy of a female version of the Cheshire Cat. Before Andy could open his mouth to talk, she beat him to the punch, sporting an ear-to-ear grin the entire time.
“Well… you weren’t supposed to see that.”