“Come on,” Haily urged.
Irene sighed, but followed Haily into the tunnel behind the school.
“What is so important?” she demanded.
“Frankie! Oh, I hope no teachers catch wind of this.”
Irene stopped short. “You are not dragging me down here for some fight, are you?”
“No, no, come ON.” Haily grabbed Irene and pulled her down into the cool dark.
No one really knew why the tunnel had been built. Rumors flew, of course: war armory, refugee hideaway. The favorite was that it led to another secret tunnel. Irene didn’t believe any of it.
Until they stopped next to Frankie and the open door.
“Frankie! Where did that door come from?” Irene demanded.
Frankie smirked proudly. “Remember when Mr. Forest gave that boring lecture about school history? No one really knew why this tunnel was built. Or even when. It was here when they built the school. So definitely not bomb shelter from the 60’s-”
“Frankie!!!!” Haily urged. “We don’t need another boring lecture. What is this place?”
“Ok, ok,” he threw his hands up. “I was curious, so I came down to investigate. There has to be a purpose, right? I found this door after about two weeks of searching. The mechanism to open it was really, really hidden.”
“What’s in there?” Haily asked, peering around the door.
“Don’t know, was waiting for you and Irene.”
“Well, let’s go in!”
“Hey, wait a minute!” Irene said. “We have no idea what is in there! Could be rats…huge mutant rats for all we know. Shouldn’t we get an adult? Or at least let someone know where we are going?”
Haily gave her a dismissive glance before pushing Frankie towards the door. Turning on the flashlight he carried, he led Haily into the deep darkness, leaving Irene frustrated in the tunnel. Finally, with one last peek at the light reflecting at the end of the tunnel, she followed Frankie and Haily.
The new tunnel had a sharp bend almost immediately, Frankie and Haily were already around it. Irene could see their shadows bouncing wildly off the far wall as she turned the corner herself. They were standing silently when she joined them.
“What’s going…” Irene’s voice died off as she saw the doors arranged in the wall in front of them.
Frankie gestured at the doors, sending the shadows dancing again. There were four doors, ornately curved lintels over gleaming wood. The stone framing each door was a luminous color; pink, teal, purple, blue glowed softly in the beam from the flashlight.
“Frankie, did you find out who built this tunnel?” Irene asked quietly, staring at doors. They were so tall, and felt….unworldly. She seemed tiny next to them.
He shook his head and answered without taking his eyes off the doors. “I was going to go the town office and look up plans, see if I could get a date at least. But I found the trigger to open the door first. Haily wanted to come right down.”
“Do you think we could open them?” Haily asked excitedly. “I mean, is there a hidden trigger here?”
Irene smiled. Haily always wanted to jump in feet first. She’d been leading Irene and Frankie around for years. Frankie was a good influence on his sister, but sometimes he followed her without thought either. Then it was up to Irene to be the voice of reason. She didn’t think they were going to listen this time.
She wasn’t going to bother. She wanted to know what was behind those doors too.
Frankie gave Irene the flashlight, then picked a door frame. He ran his hands over the light teal wood, looking for any nicks or fissures. Irene held the light on the door for him, searching with her eyes as well. Haily, not to be out done, started feeling along the cherry pink door next to Frankie. Irene stepped back to divide the light evenly between the doors for them. That’s when she saw it.
“Uh, guys, what about that?”
Frankie straightened up, then pushed the stone on the lintel that Irene was pointing at. He and Haily jumped back as the door swished inward. Fresh air swept into the tunnel as the three stared in amazement.
“That, that isn’t possible,” Irene gasped, then grabbed Haily as she started forward. “Tomorrow,” she said firmly. “we need to plan this out.”
Frankie agreed, and they went back up the tunnel, dragging a reluctant Haily between them.