The sky was a shade lighter than charcoal. The wind howled between the trees; the rumbling of thunder could be heard at a distance. The professor looked up from the spreadsheet that covered his computer screen. “Is that thunder?” he said. The two students sitting nearby, discussing their assignments in hushed tones, nodded. The professor walked up to the glass window and parted the white plastic blinds with his fingers and looked at the sky. He said something incoherent but it sounded like he was commenting on the thunder storm. He walked back to his chair which faced away from the window, clearly distracted. He peered at the graphs on this computer screen, but he was restless. He kept looking at the window, fidgeting. He had left the blinds parted.
Outside, the winds had picked up, the clouds had acquired a menacing color, the air was heavy with the smell of rain. Soon it began to rain. The drops fell fast and furious, pelting the earth. The thunder and the rain tried to outdo each other in a show of force.
A door in the hallway opened, a pair of wet squeaky flip flops could be heard making its way towards the room. The door opened and a tall girl with her pants rolled up to her knees walked up to the students, panting. A dash from her car in the parking lot to the building door had completely soaked her. The girl and the students stood by the window talking excitedly observing the falling rain. The professor was on his cell phone talking in a low tone. “It’s dangerous,” “I’ll be late,” was all that could be heard over the loud rumbling of the thunder. After a while the girl left the room to dry herself. The students went back to their assignments. The thunderstorm was not captivating any longer. The professor looked less nervous and tried to concentrate on his computer screen, but now and then he would look over his shoulder at the window. Suddenly, the lights flickered and went out, plunging the room in total darkness. The professor swore under his breath, and a student sighed. The room was dark and quiet except for the glowing computer screen and the rain and the thunder outside.
The building had a history. It was a juvenile detention center in the past. When the college took over the property, the rooms were renovated to some extent, but the layout of the building had not been altered. A sense of gloom and decay still hung around the rooms.
On this Friday that feeling seemed heavier. The building was mostly empty; the administrative staff had left early, in anticipation of the long weekend. Only a few faculty and students remained. Suddenly, the professor heard footsteps in the hallway. Someone was walking towards the room. “It must be the tall girl who got drenched,” he thought. The footsteps stopped outside the door but no one entered the room. Instead there was loud banging on the wall. The students and the professor looked at each other. “Who is it?” the professor asked loudly. No one answered. Instead, the banging continued. The students exchanged nervous glances. The professor rose from his chair and walked cautiously up to the door. When he reached the door, the banging stopped. He flung the door open, and at that very moment, as if on cue, the light came on.
The hallway was empty and silent.