“Hurry,” said Toby urgently, “they’re coming.”
The two groups were steadily advancing down the corridor towards them. Their lack of haste was even more unnerving than when they were tearing at each other. Angela got the cupboard door open and shoved the pair inside before following them and locking it behind them.
“Miss, what’s happening?” asked Toby.
Sunita sat on the floor holding her face in her hands. Angela put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, but had no reassurance to offer.
“I don’t know. We have to stop them from getting in here. Help me.” Angela pulled hard at one side of the large metal shelving unit.
“We can move this over the door so they can’t open it even if the lock breaks. Sunita, you need to move.”
Toby pulled the shaking girl to her feet then helped Angela to drag the first of the shelves. The stationery cascade seemed to wake Sunita up – she looked suprised that they were in the cupboard. The door was braced as thoroughly as it could be, though that wasn’t anywhere near as secure as Angela would have liked.
“Do either of you have a phone?”
The two teenagers looked shocked.
“What for?” asked Sunita.
“So we can call the police. We need help- I don’t think this is going to keep them out for very long.”
“But the phones started all this.”
“What do you mean Sunita?”
“When the phones rang, everyone who answered them went crazy.”
The door handle turned. Then the pounding started. Fists hammering at the door frame and on the window. Cracks started to appear in the glass.
“Okay, there’s no time. You two – get up in the ceiling and find another way out.”
The two stared at her.
“The ceiling tiles. Get up those shelves.”
Toby climbed the rack of shelves that lay on the wall opposite the door and pushed up the tile.
“It’s really dusty.”
“It doesn’t matter. Be careful up there. You need to be quiet and make sure you only step on the edges – otherwise you’ll fall through.”
Toby pulled himself up and into the ceiling space. It wasn’t high enough for him to stand up.
“Now you Sunita,” said Angela, pushing the girl towards the shelves. The hammering was steady now, each strike made Angela’s stomach tense. Sunita picked up an art scalpel from the floor and put it in her pocket.
“Good idea,” said Angela. She picked up a handful of them and passed them up to Toby. Then she helped Sunita up the shelves.
“Be really quiet, but get as far away from here as you can.”
“Miss – aren’t you coming?”
Angela looked away from the hole in the ceiling.
Sunita and Toby looked at each other, hunched up and already gathering dust bunnies.
“I don’t want them to catch you. Now go.”
Angela tugged the ceiling tile back into place, and pulled the shelves down from against the wall. She could hear the two kids whispering, followed by the sounds of their cautious steps. The noise from the fire alarm should give them good cover. With luck the people trying to break in would never figure out where the pair had gone. Now that Angela was alone she had time to think about what she was doing.
A chunk of glass fell from the window and the sign she’d painted slipped away from the glass. Her view of the corridor outside was just of fists smashing against the wire-reinforced glass. Blood ran freely from the children’s hands as they battered at the window. They were going to kill her when they got in. It occurred to her that she should have gone with Toby and Sunita but it was too late. Angela huddled down under the lowest of the shelves and held her lino knife out in front of her. The blood from the slice across her face was till getting in her eye, so she used some of the sugar paper to blot the cut. She was going to die here and Mark would never even know. She pulled another sheet of paper towards her and picked a pen from the mess around her. At least she could leave him a letter.