My eyes flew open to absolute darkness and I . I tried to sit up, bumping my head hard against something above me. Calm down, Lizzy. Calm down.
I took a deep breath. Pain coursed through my skull but I tried to ignore it. The hard, cold floor pressed against my cheek, and I stretched my fingers out, tried to move my wrists, and to my surprise I could. Kevin hadn't tied me up.
Where was I?
I edged to the side and felt a wall, then edged to the other side and felt something soft, a blanket. I kept wiggling my body out. The cold cement below me turned to itchy carpet.
I felt blindly through the darkness, my hands spreading over the blanket hanging off the bed.
"Hello?" I whispered. "Kevin?"
Nobody answered, but I didn't need him to tell me where he'd left me; I began to put the pieces together myself. Kevin hid me under the bed in the room installation. It had to be one of the only places you could hide somebody in the entire art gallery, somewhere a guard wouldn't check when they did their rounds after closing. After all, you weren't allowed to touch art.
In that case there'd be broken glass on the ground. I had to be careful.
Ever so slowly I pulled myself out from under the bed and stood up. I continued fumbling through the air. I blinked, eyes widening as I searched for even a shred of light. Nothing. The darkness pressed on me like a vice. My ears perked up to every sound, the whir of the air conditioner, the distant rev of car engines on the road outside.
Then my fingers touched something cool and leathery. I kept feeling, slipping my hand inside.
My bag. I picked it up and rooted around for my phone. Did Kevin take it? Shit, he took it didn't he?
But then I found it and I sighed, the sound echoing throughout the room. I pressed the home button and the screen shone so bright in the blackness that it hurt my eyes to look at the time. 11:04 PM. Over an hour had passed since Kevin suffocated me.
I turned the flashlight on and stood up, shining it on every corner of the room.
A sigh escaped my chest and my shoulders sagged. I turned off the flashlight and tried to calm my breathing. What next? Did I call Mr. Xing or the police? My first instinct was to dial 911, but explaining to the police why I was in Toronto instead of Vancouver, or how I'd met Kevin in the first place, seemed a bit tedious. It was only eight o'clock in Vancouver. Mr. Xing could get me out of here, and if he needed help had grandkids who knew how to break into buildings. He was the one who taught them. It helped in his profession.
I found Mr. Xing's contact and tried calling, but as soon as I pressed the button it didn't go through. An error popped up.
No SIN card.
You had to be kidding me.
I checked. Sure enough, the tiny card that allowed me to make calls was gone. I couldn't even tweet out a, 'Help! A crazy man locked me in an art gallery!' without it.
Okay, plan B. There had to be a night guard around here. I mean, hello, Night at the Museum may have been fiction but major museums must have hired guards to make sure this exact sort of thing didn't happen. AGO was the Art Gallery of Ontario after all, not the Art Gallery of Chinatown, and it was sure as hell large enough to warrant some extra security.
At least I hoped so.
I swallowed. Even if there wasn't a nightguard it was likely that there were motion sensors. Maybe if I just stepped out of the installation an alarm would go off and I wouldn't need a SIN card to call the police after all.
So I turned on my flashlight again and walked out.
I walked a bit further, trying to muffle my footsteps. I went into the dancing room, but the video was off and the disco ball had stopped spinning. The giant disco ball reflected bits of light all over the room when I pointed my phone at it, but for the most part the cavernous exhibit seemed more like a representation of the death of Kenya's marriage than anything.
I kept moving.
No motion sensors, then. Or maybe the alarm didn't make a sound when it got triggered? I could only hope.
I moved slowly, trying not to breathe too loudly. There were so many corners to hide around, so many places Kevin could be waiting with a knife in his hand.
I went into the long corridor with the neon lights. The curtains hung off the opposite wall dull and lifeless without the glow of the lights to turn them magical. I turned around, finding the elevators. When I pressed the buttons, though, none of them lit up. I tried again and again but the elevator wouldn't work.
Think, Lizzy, think. There had to be a way to get out of here, like an emergency exit, or the ramp that led down to the main lobby.
I turned away from the elevators, pointing my flashlight down the hallway. It was weak, the beam too dim to even reach the doors. I moved towards them, pushing the guard's chair out of the way. It clattered on the ground and I tugged at the doors. They wouldn't budge. My heart began to race. Tears welled in my eyes, bursting onto my cheeks.
"Keep it together," I whispered. "K-keep it together, Lizzy."
I kept rattling the door, but it was no use. Locked. The only option I had now was an emergency exit. There had to be one somewhere. I spun around.
The camera light bounced over the gallery, briefly lighting upon a human figure.
My breath hitched and I dropped the phone. Hurriedly, I scooped it off the ground and ran.
Heavy footsteps pounded after me. Adrenaline rushed through my veins as I fumbled around, trying to turn my flashlight off as I sprinted down the hall. I turned a corner and kept running back the way I'd come, past the elevators and into a little room with sculptures. I pushed myself into the corner by the entry.
The footsteps got closer. My trembling fingers finally managed to turn off the flashlight. I clicked the off button. The world went dark.
The footsteps reverberated through the walls. Kevin?
I flattened myself against the wall. The footsteps slowed, and a beam of light cut into the room. It wasn't a phone flashlight. It was powerful, illuminating the sculptures with a harsh beam of white. They were rows and rows of busts with cuts and bruises, the faces horrified and captured in mid scream.
The footsteps continued past the room. The residual glow of the flashlight ebbed until I couldn't see the faces any longer. My heart pounded rhythmically, two beats for every one of his steps.
The only thing that kept me still and quiet was that I knew I would make it out of this alive. I'd seen the scroll. I'd seen Kevin baring over me with that knife. I'd seen myself with the broken phone but otherwise unharmed. No death there, right? Unless that was actually me as a ghost. Unless that was me in heaven (or hell. It had to be a sin to have eaten that much pizza).
Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.
If Kevin was the only person in here with me, if I had no way to escape, and if I had no SIN card, how the hell was I supposed to survive this?
I just had to calm down. That's right, calm. I had to keep my head screwed on properly and figure out how to get out of this mess.
Slowly, feeling my way against the walls, I edged into the darkness of the hall. I put my bag down on the floor to lighten the load, but kept my phone on me.
Tip toeing as quietly as a deer I made my way through the gallery, completely blind but with my ears hypersensitive to any noise. I heard every distant scuttle, and every one of Kevin's heavy footsteps. At least I knew where he was.
If I could just find an emergency exit I'd be fine. The darkness kept me hidden, and there were no twigs to step on or tree roots to trip over. I'd be okay. At least that's what I kept telling myself.
However, when the lights turned on, I began to doubt that.
My eyes widened and I stopped in the tracks. Music started playing, and I looked down at myself and my all black clothes didn't blend in anymore. I stood out like a crow against white clouds. I began to shake.
Slowly I looked up.
I saw him, but it wasn't Kevin.