Lit Mag Short Fiction

The School of Barclay Country Day

Lily had her head rested in the crook of her elbow, staring at the hands on the clock, ticking at a sloth pace. There were over 20 minutes left in the last period. Mr. Thompson had been reviewing last night’s homework for way longer than he should have.

“Gabby, wanna ditch?” Lily whisper-shouted to Gabby. Her friend wasn’t really the ditching type so she had come prepared with a selling point. “Please? I will buy you starbucks after practice today!” She looked up at the clock and back at Lily.

“Absolutely not. Last time you made me ditch class, we got detention.”

Lily let out a sigh. “Ok fine. You leave me no choice.” She raised her. “Mr. Thompson? May I use the restroom?” He raised his eyebrows and shot her a warning look. Lily was well known for having a “bladder issue” which required her to leave to use the bathroom every 10 minutes.

“Make it quick!”

Lily stood, and on her way up, snatched Gabby’s phone off her desk. She quickly hurried to the door where she turned around and mouthed to Gabby, who was now fuming, meet me in the bathroom.

It was about three minutes before Gabby came in.

“You’re a jerk, you know that?” Gabby entered the big stall and sat next to Lily.

“Yeah well, If Mr. Thompson kept talking about the ‘extraordinary history of this school’s genesis’ for another second, I would’ve fallen asleep.” Lily had attempted to impersonate the teacher’s accent.

“That was a horrible impression.” Gabby said. “And don’t lie, I know you weren’t paying attention, you never do.” Snatching her phone back from Lily’s back pocket, she leaned back against the bathroom wall next to her friend.

Click. “Uhhh, what was that? Did you just break something?” Both of the girls’ eyes widened, knowing the consequences of such actions in a private school.

“No!  I just- I just did this!” Gabby proceeded to repeat the action of leaning back and the wall CLICK. This time it was even louder, and the wall seemed to come ajar. Both of the girls jumped up and faced it. A cool breeze and the smell of must came seeping through the crack that now appeared on the wall.

“What. The. Hell.” Eyes wide, Lily looked over at Gabby, eyes wide in astonishment. The same face was plastered on Gabbys.

“You definitely broke something.”

“Is it- is it a door? Did you know this was here?”

“No I didn’t know this was here! Maybe it’s just a janitorial closet?” Slowly, the door started to swing its way open with an eerie creek, leaving in its absence an opening to a never ending hallway of abyss.

“That is definitely not a janitor’s closet.”

“This is insane, Lily.  Let’s just go back to class, Mr. Thompson is gonna be mad if we stay out any longer.” She turned to hurry out of the bathroom when Lily grabbed her arm, pulling her around.

“No stop! Do you have any idea how cool this is? There is a secret passage in the bathroom! Does no part of you want to see what’s in there?”

Gabby aggressively shook her head no.“Absolutely not. I’m going back to class.”

“Alrighty then. Well I’m going in. You have fun back in class!” Lily turned on her phone flashlight and started to walk towards the door.

“Wait! You can’t go in there alone! Are you insane?”

“Maybe.” Lily said with a smile. Gabby grunted looking at the exit, and then back to Lily.

“I hope you know that if we die, it’s your fault.”

“Totally, 100% my fault. ” Lily said with a smile. Gabby turned on her flashlight as well and both of the girls hesitantly stepped in. It was damp in the hall, with a coldness that sent shivers down your spine. The girls pushed on further until they appeared halfway through the narrow hall.

“It’s cold in here.” Gabby remarked. “Cold and scary. And I’m pretty sure, no I’m positive, there are spiders down here.”

“I don’t get why you’re scared of them anyways. They’re harmless. Besides, they only like blondes anyways, and you’re a brunette.”

“Don’t even joke about that, you know I hate spiders.” The hallway they had been walking down came to an abrupt stop.

“Huh. A secret passage with no secret? That’s no fun.”

“Oh well, I guess we just have to head back then. Let’s go.” Click.

“What was that?”

“Gabby, whatever you do, don’t move!” Lily murmured an explicit under her breath before saying, “I think you stepped on some sort of trap.” Lily started to look around.

“Lily…” Gabby’s voice seemed to be trembling

“Not right now Gabby I’m trying to look for some sort of lever to disarm whatever it is you just stepped on.

“Lily, there’s a really big spider on my foot.” Her voice was definitely trembling now.

“What? Ok hold on I’ll get it off just don’t move.” Lily made her way over to where Gabby stood and shined her flashlight on Gabby’s foot. “Oh God, that is huge.  Eww, why is it hairy?”

“Just get it off!” Gabby screeched. Her eyes were now squeezed shut and there were what appeared to be tears coming down her face.

“Oh my God, are you crying?”


“Ok, ok, yeah, hold on.” Lily pulled out her hair clip from her bun. “I’m going to flick it.” Just as Lily was reaching towards it, the spider scrambled away, climbing up Gabby’s pant leg.

“OH MY GOD IT’S IN MY PANTS” Gabby screamed.

“Gabby DONT MO-”  Bang. The door that they had entered came slamming shut, left in a completely dark hall, minus their flashlights.

“Is it off me? Oh please tell me it’s off me!”

“Gabby! That doesn’t matter, we’re trapped! We’re probably going to die and have our corpses be eaten by spiders now!” At Lily’s comment, Gabby’s subtle tears turned into a sob.

“Gabby, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. We’re going to be fine.” Gabby wiped her eyes and looked up at Lily.

“It’s dark in here” she said in between sniffles, “can we please hurry up and get out.” Lily nodded and they made their way back towards the entrance, the light of their phones guiding them. But there was no way out. What was once a door was now a wall, sealed shut.


Mr. Thompson ran a hand down his face and sighed. “No. They left 50 minutes ago. Neither of them have returned.” He stated. “This is highly unusual for these girls. Gabby at least, Lily always leaves for an extended time during this class. Coach Perkins said that they didn’t even show up to their practice. Skipping class makes sense for Lily, but skipping soccer too? Something must’ve happened.”

Dr. Stark, the principal of the school, was sitting at one of the desks, the county sheriff in the one next to him. “We have reviewed security footage and all it shows is them entering the bathroom at 2:02 pm today. According to the tapes, they haven’t left.” Everyone in the room, which included security, police, and some other staff, shared a confused look.

“How is that possible?” The sheriff asked. “We’ve had multiple people search this bathroom. Where could they have possibly gone?” He turned to the school’s head of security. “Have the parents been informed?”

“Yes sir. They are on their way and should be here in a few minutes.” The sheriff rubbed his fingers on his temples, pushing back the headache that was forming.

“Alright. Here’s the deal. We’ve never had a situation like this before, but that doesn’t mean it’s something we aren’t prepared for. We will have multiple search teams-”

“Sheriff?” Mr. Thompson stood up from the back of the classroom where he had been sitting quietly at his desk. “Excuse me but can I just say, today in class we were learning about something that was sort of interesting. I assume you know, but this school used to be the royal palace belonging to the Barclay’s of New England.”

“Yes of course I know, but Mr. Thompson I am failing to see how this is relevant. We have some very worried parents on their way and I want to have a plan formed by the time they get here. Now, if I can just return-”

“Please just trust me on this. The Barclays weren’t just famous for their riches and royalties, but also for their trickery. The family was obsessed with traps and hidden passages which were implemented all over the castle to catch and kill spies, who were everywhere at that time. Before the castle was turned into this school, it had to be searched and ridded of any traps that could cause harm to students. They had secret passages, fake doors, and traps all over the place.”

“What exactly are you suggesting?”

Mr. Thompson let out a deep breath as he sat back in his chair. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t find and cover up all of the secret passages.” At that, the room went silent.

“So you’re suggesting that these girls potentially have gotten themselves stuck in a fatal medieval contraption?”

Mr. Thompson seemed to grimace before saying, “Precisely.”


“Shoot, my phone died.” Gabby and Lily had been sitting next to each other on the cold brick floor for a while now, trying to figure out a plan. The hall was now only dimly lit by Gabby’s phone’s flashlight, having lost Lily’s.

“Yeah, well maybe you shouldn’t have wasted all of your battery trying to get reception.” Gabby remarked.

“Ok. I get it. You’re mad at me. But to be fair, it’s not my fault that there was a freaking medieval trap in the school bathroom!”

“No, maybe not, but it is your fault for making me miss class!”

“You know what? You need to loosen up a little bit Gabby, you’re so uptight.”

“Excuse me?”

“You are so boring! You never want to do anything!”

“ I can’t believe you just said that.” Gabby was angry now. “ You’re the reason we got ourselves trapped in here! Quite frankly, my ‘boringness’ might just have saved us from death. Personally, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.” Lily wasn’t listening to her, she seemed to be giving her full attention to the wall. “Really? You’re now going to ignore me?”

“Sh!” Lily said. “I’m listening. Do you hear that?” The girls went silent for a second. Lily was right, there was a sound of something in the walls.

“That just sounds like the plumbing. We are in the bathroom, you know.”

“No. The plumbing doesn’t go this way. How long has that noise been happening for?”

“How do you even know that?”

“Common sense, Gabby. Plumbing goes under the school.”

“Yeah well the school is pretty old. It even used to be a castle. I don’t think they had plumbing then.”

“Wait, what did you say?”

“What? That they didn’t have plumbing in the 1700s? That’s not common sense?”

“No, no. The other thing.”

“That the school used to be a castle? Yeah, Mr. Thompson was talking about it today.”

“Yeah I know he was, I was paying attention. I was also paying attention when he talked about the immense problem with spy’s… and what they did to get rid of them.”

“Wow, I didn’t think that you ever paid attention.” Lily gave Gabby an eyeroll and stood up.

“I don’t think that’s the thing to be concerned about here.” She started to look more closely at the walls.

“What are you looking for?”

“I think we got ourselves stuck in one of those contraptions. But it’s weird because they would never have just a trap, there was always a trigger. The thing that was used for the final blow… eliminating the spies. My guess is that this trap was too old to work. Here, give me your flashlight.” Gabby stood up and handed her phone to Lily who used it to guide her across the walls, inspecting every inch. Gabby followed close behind her, not wanting to be left in the dark.

“Here.” She pointed the flashlight at the ends of a pipe sticking out of the wall. “They called this trap the ‘water closet.’”

“Why’s that?” Gabby whispered, too afraid to know the answer.

“Because it was located in the bathrooms. And because they would flood the room until there was no air left.” Lily tried to add that last part in quickly, as to not freak out Gabby more than she already was.

“What?!” At that, the pipe started to rumble, and the sound in the walls started to get louder. Lily and Gabby backed up all the way to the other wall. Not 10 seconds later, water came rushing out of the pipe with a loud whoosh.


“Ok, here’s the plan.” The Sheriff had taken over Mr. Thompson’s desk, laying a blueprint across the top. “Right here is where the girls were last seen. The bathroom.” He circled it in red sharpie. “Knowing that there are classrooms to the left and the right of the room, and that there isn’t a basement in this ancient castle, it only leaves one place where this ‘passage’ could be hidden. The back.” He x’d out the wall on his map. “According to this blueprint, there’s nothing there.” He looked up from the desk. “But Mrs. Smith, you said you found a crack in the wall suggesting a door?” Lily’s mom nodded with no hesitation. She was nervous to get her daughter safe so was very thrilled to have found a way to help. “Alright then. We will have one team drilling along the perimeter of the crack, that would be you and your crew George” The construction worker nodded, “and another team ready on standby for any help. If what we have learned is true, what we find may not be pretty.”

The room started to fill with a kind of energy that felt like an itch. The girls have been missing for two hours now, and the urgency to find them was only growing.

“Alright, everybody ready?”


Water was rushing into the hall, getting faster every second. The girls were already standing in water five inches deep.

“What do we do?” Gabby was backed up against the corner next to Lily.

“I don’t know! We have to stop it somehow! Do you still have your jacket?”

“Seriously? That’s what you’re thinking of right now, being cold?”

“Just give me your jacket!” Gabby ripped the jacket off her shoulders, shoving it quickly into Lily’s hands. She began to trudge slowly through the water that had risen just below her knees.

“Are you walking toward it? Are you crazy!” Lily continued on, ignoring Gabby. The weight of the water on her jeans slowed her down, but she eventually made it to the pipe in the wall.

“What are you doing!” Gabby yelled.

“I’m trying to save our lives! Care to help?” Lily bundled up the jacket, and started shoving it into the pipe.

“Aha! It worked!” The jacket had cut off the water flow. Suddenly, the walls started rumbling.

“I don’t think it did.” The water came bursting back out, sweeping the jacket away with it. Now the water was spilling out 2 times faster than before. Lily wasn’t going to give up. She started to take off her shirt to use as another plug in the pipe. “Lily, stop. The pressure of the water is too strong to stop.” Lily had tears in her eyes now.

“So, what. You’re suggesting that I just give up? That I let us die here? It’s my fault that we are stuck in this place!” The water was up to the girls’ waists now. Gabby made her way over, and wrapped her arms around Lily.

“Lil, it’s ok. I don’t blame you for any of this. And I’m sorry for what I said before, you really are the best friend I ever had.” The girls stood hugging, both of them sobbing into the other’s shoulder, for a while.


“Try again.”

“But sheriff, we’ve tried everything, there is no getting through this wall. It’s made up of some sort of metallic fibers. It’s quite literally impo-”

“TRY IT AGAIN.” Everyone went silent. All of the men had been working nonstop, sweat dripping down their foreheads. All sorts of tools had been brought in, but none of them worked at the attempt to get the seal open. “Those are innocent girls in there. They don’t deserve to die today, so we aren’t going to let them, ok? Now. Try. Again.” There was a kind of atmosphere in the room, some kind of shared awareness; that door wasn’t going to open.


The water was now up to just below their chests. The girls stayed hugging. They had been talking to keep their mind off of the matter at hand, sharing happy memories.

“Remember that one time you laughed so hard, milk came out of your nose?” Lily laughed, but it wasn’t the kind of laugh that comes from the heart.

“Yeah, I remember it burning really badly. “You remember that time in the 7th grade when you had dared me to slap your crush because he didn’t like you back?” Gabby giggled.

“I can’t believe you actually did that.”

“Yeah, well, I would do anything for you.” The girls went silent for a second. Gabby pulled away and looked Lily in the eyes.

“I love you Lil, you know that, right?”

“Yeah” Lily said, “I know.”

“Good.” The water had now rised to above their chests, and there was only a foot or two left of air.  Eventually, the girls were now forced to tread water, the ground not in reach.

“Hold my hand Gabby, and close your eyes. We’re going to be alright.” There were only a few more seconds left of air after that before the hall was entirely filled with water.

“You and me forever Gabby” said Lily as she took a big inhale of her last breath.

“Forever.” Gabby repeated, and took her last breath as well. It had become eerily quiet underwater. The rush of the water had stopped and the only noise now was the creaking in the wall. The girls were still holding hands, eyes open underwater. The glow of the phone flashlight was enough to illuminate their faces. Suddenly there was a loud bang. Lily jolted her body, letting go of Gabbys hand looking around for the cause. Bang. Again. Lily was swimming now, searching the walls. When she had looped around the short hall she started swimming back to Gabby who was still floating where she’d left her. Except, Gabby wasn’t there, she wasn’t anywhere. There were two more bangs. Lily’s lungs were hurting now, barely any air left, but with the last oxygen left, she managed to let out the loudest scream that she could.


Lily sat up, gasping. She was covered in sweat, sitting at her desk, Mr. Thompson stood above her, looking ready to bang his hand next to where her head was.

“Ah, Miss. Fryling, thank you for joining us.” Lily looked up at him confused, her eyes seemed blind to the brightness. Suddenly, as if in a panic, she started spitting out words so fast that weren’t comprehensible.

“-and Gabby, she was there too! It was awful Mr. Thompson! I thought- I thought it was real…” Lily looked around, all of her classmates were turned, staring at her. “Wait.. Where’s Gabby? She was here today, wasn’t she?” Mr. Thompson let out a sigh, rubbing against the lines on his forehead.

“I’m not going to do this with you today Lily. It’s been 6 months, Gabby is gone.” Lily was staring at Mr. Thompson, tears welling up in her eyes.

“What? But she-” Her stomach felt nauseous, and there was a burning in her chest. “You fell asleep during my lecture Lily, and this isn’t the first time. I’m afraid you’re out of excuses now, I’m going to have to report you to the dean.” Lily was staring at her desk, as if looking for answers ingrained in the wood. The tears were running down her face quickly now.

“It felt so real,” she whispered. “Gabby was right there.”

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