Home > Asylum (Asylum #1)(5)

Asylum (Asylum #1)(5)
Madeleine Roux

Dan nodded. “According to my roomie, anyway, and he doesn’t strike me as the exaggerating type. He said there was a lock but it was broken.”

“Talk about lax,” Abby said.

“And weird,” Jordan added, rubbing at his elbows as if suddenly cold. “I’m not sure, Abby, this sounds more up your alley. I’m not into all that macabre crap.”

“You’re not sitting this one out,” she told him firmly. “Right, Dan?” Abby’s eyes sparkled.

“Of . . . of course not! You’ve got to come along.” For a minute there, he’d hoped he and Abby would end up checking out the office alone.

“I don’t know . . .” Jordan kicked at an invisible speck on the ground. “Just seems risky.”

He did have a point. No matter what Dan said about the broken lock, he was pretty sure the room was supposed to be off-limits. And if they did get caught and kicked out as Jordan feared, Dan would never forgive himself. Worse than having his own summer ruined, he’d be responsible for ruining their summers, too. Wouldn’t that make a good first impression.

But he felt like he’d opened a Pandora’s box—that the possibilities unlocked by a trip to the old wing had already grown and gotten away from him. Plus, if he was being honest, Dan really did want to know if there were more photos like the one he had found in his room.

“Come on,” Dan needled, pointing out Felix’s lanky frame weaving through the crowd still inside. “He went in there. How bad could it be?”

Jordan took a discreet look, then snorted. “What are they always saying about peer pressure? If your friends jump off a bridge, something something?”

“Well, Dan and I are going with or without you, aren’t we, Dan?” Abby said with a confidence that Dan admired.

“All right already!” Laughing, Jordan nudged Abby’s side. “You two win—let’s go jump off that bridge.”

Dan found them waiting at the bottom of the stairs. A phone call from his parents had almost made him late, but when he assured Paul and Sandy that he’d arrived just fine, and that his friends Jordan and Abby were waiting for him downstairs, his mother had let him go with a happy little chirp.

Behind Jordan and Abby, a few lights flickered in the entrance hall. Jordan leaned against one of the tall white columns that supported the archway. He waved at Dan’s approach, swinging a flashlight in his other hand.

Abby had changed into a turquoise sweatshirt and pulled her hair up into a loose ponytail.

“Hey,” she whispered, glancing around. “We saw a hall monitor go by a few minutes ago, but nothing since. You ready?”

Dan nodded and joined them under the arch. Jordan tested the flashlight, shining a beam of light at each of them in turn.

“Last chance to go back and do something sensible,” Jordan offered, “like drink in my room and watch Thundercats.”

Abby’s nose wrinkled as she leveled a soft punch at his shoulder. “You are not chickening out now. Besides, we can do that after.”

“I’m going to hold you to that,” Jordan murmured, following them into the dim, silent hall. “Because I’ll definitely need a drink after this.”

Dan knew what he meant. Now that he was here, he was so beyond nervous it was like he was giddy. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling exactly, but it was markedly better than the kind of anxiety he was used to.

Softly, they crept across the empty hall, passing the notices and activities corkboard, the vending machines, and a rickety elevator that was out of service. Fewer lights shined overhead the deeper into the hall they went, and when they reached the old office door they found themselves in almost total darkness. Jordan lifted his flashlight from their feet to the door, and Dan’s heart sank: it was clearly locked. And the sign Felix had mentioned turned out to be a poster board that said KEEP OUT in rather serious red letters.

“I thought this was an unfettered access situation,” Jordan whispered.

“I swear . . .” Had Felix lied to him? What would the point even be in that? “They must have figured out students were going in and locked it up. Damn it. I’m sorry for dragging you guys here.”

“All right, all right, don’t look so sad.” From his pocket, Jordan produced a paper clip, which he proceeded to straighten. When he’d finished, he put one end into the padlock and started to wiggle it around gently. “Just know that you owe me a lot more than Thundercats for this.”

“Pretty impressive,” Dan whispered. He had seen lock picking on TV, but it didn’t compare to the sneaky thrill of watching someone do it in real life.

Jordan smiled, pausing for a moment. “I can do it with a hairpin, too.”

“Would you two keep it down?” Abby looked over her shoulder.

“You’re breathing louder than we’re talking.” Jordan bit down on his lower lip with an impatient sigh, the padlock shaking in his grasp.

“Maybe hurry it up just a little,” Dan murmured.

“I’m going as fast as I can. This is an art. You can’t rush art.” A light sheen of perspiration broke out over Jordan’s forehead, soaking the ends of his bangs. “Just . . . almost . . .” Dan heard the softest of clicks. “Gotcha.” Jordan pocketed the paper clip in his hoodie and looped the open padlock through the ring on the door frame. He pushed the door. It didn’t budge.

“Damn, it’s stuck,” he said. “Give me a hand. . . .”

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