The Janitor’s Key

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📅 Published on August 4, 2008

"The Janitor's Key"

Written by

Estimated reading time — 4 minutes

One day, a kid got what he thought was a genius idea. He’d find a way to stay overnight in his school. Just to be able to say he did it, the idea of the story that it would make thrilled him. He had no idea how right he was.

The major problem of the plan was getting a key. He couldn’t just hide in corners the whole night, he wanted to explore. He also wanted to scope out the best places in the school for some after school activities with any girls interested. He began to think of himself as the king of the brick castle that he spent most of his time in. He just needed that key.

The only people that he thought would have a key to the entire school would be the janitors. They kept their keys on them, and had a spare set in their break room. He went in during lunch, when the janitors were on cafeteria patrol. He came into the break room and picked up the keys. He’d figure out what they were for later. As he was walking out of the room, amazed that it actually worked, he walked right into one of the janitors.

What are you doing back here?” inquired the custodian. The kid stammered for a few seconds, and ultimately decided to tell the truth. There was something about the man that said “You can trust me.” The janitor laughed and said “You know, I wanted to do the same thing when I was young. Something about having the whole place to myself, it was an intoxicating urge. I made the mistake of going to the top, thinking I could get the keys there. I got caught, and the old man expelled me, for lack of a better word.” Then he took a key off of his key ring and gave it to the kid. It was an odd key, he couldn’t properly tell what color it was. It seemed to keep changing, even when he held it still. “That key will open any door in the school for you. Enjoy, son.”

The kid couldn’t believe his incredible luck. He ran off once the janitor finished talking. He thought that he caught a whiff of something odd coming from the janitor, but thought nothing of it. The guy did clean up after teenagers for a living, after all.

That night, the kid came out of the corner that he was hiding in. He told his parents that he was sleeping over his friend’s house. He promised the friend a tour of the school in exchange for covering for him. He went through the school, finding out what teachers kept in their desks, playing with chemicals and fire in the chemistry room, and generally enjoying himself. He had no problems getting into any of the rooms, desks, or even lockers. He had to use a flashlight instead of turning on the lights, but that just heightened the thrill.

When it was around three o’clock in the morning, he decided to call it a night and sleep in the janitor’s break room. He brought an alarm clock so that he could wake up in time to make his perfect escape, but if he was to be found by anyone, it would mean he would never be able to do this again. Plus, if he was caught by the janitor, he didn’t think he would get in as much trouble.

He woke up early. He heard some thumping, but couldn’t tell where from. It sounded like footsteps. The smell that came off of the janitor permeated the air. The kid thought it smelled familiar, but couldn’t place it. He turned on his flashlight. He pointed it around, and the beam fell on a figure in the corner. The kid let out a yell and dropped the flashlight. It went out. As he was picking up the flashlight and preparing to run to beat the devil, he realized that he hung up his coat in that corner.

“Dumbass,” he said to himself. Now that the flashlight was out, he noticed that it was a little brighter. Morning already? No, a glance at the clock told him that it was little over an hour after he fell asleep. So what was making it brighter? He felt his way out of the office until he was in familiar territory. He took his hands off of the walls, now walking fairly confidently. It seemed to be getting even brighter.

Then it occurred to him. If the figure in the corner was his coat, what made that thumping noise? He stopped and looked behind him. He saw a shadowy outline behind him. It was wearing his coat. Even though he couldn’t see the face, he knew that the figure was smiling. He ran like hell, aimlessly turning until he reached a stairwell. He went down it. Funny, he didn’t remember there being a down stairwell there, he thought he was on the first floor. Too late to turn back now. As he ran down, it got brighter and the faint odor he detected was getting stronger. When he noticed the light flickering like a fire, he placed the smell. Sulfur. He looked around him and noticed the walls. They looked like cave walls with odd runes covering them. He saw the end of the stairs, and the figure at the bottom waiting for him.

The janitor looked up at him, smiled, and laughed.

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