Chapter 17 – Anthony Woods
Only thirty left. That was it. Just enough for a week.
Anthony eyed the two pills in his hand and dreaded what would happen if he ran out. He needed to get out of here. He needed to see the doctor in Denver—the famous one who was going to make the voices go away for good. Then, he’d be able to live a normal life. He’d be a normal person like everyone else.
Stay here with us.
They won’t accept you.
He tossed the pills into his mouth and swallowed before he looked out of his window again. More of the passengers were making their way to the office building and diner. He took a deep breath and started his journey.
The group had been waiting in the diner for a full ten minutes before the last person, Aubree, walked in and started heaving to catch her breath. She walked over to a booth and sat down like everyone else had.
“You’re late,” Carter said from across the room as he crossed her arms.
“Sorry,” Aubree said, “Some people actually care about their appearance.” She eyed Rachel, letting everyone know what she meant.
“Excuse me?” Rachel said as she leaned forward and furrowed her eyebrows.
“Ladies,” Frank interjected from behind the bar. “We have a lot to cover. Why don’t we get started?”
“Agreed,” Carter said, standing up from his stool. “There is still a lot of questions that need to be answered.”
“Yes, there is, Sgt. Townes,” Frank said as he crumpled a bag of potato chips he’d just finished. “And, I believe I’ll be able to answer one of the questions you had last night right now.” He turned to the rest of the group. “If you’ll all follow me, I’ll show you the cellar.”
Everyone got up. Anthony joined the group and Seth stood next to him.
“Ready for the show,” he asked Anthony.
“Uh, yeah.” Anthony offered up a slight chuckle. It was fake. Why was he talking to him? He was the one who saw Anthony with the pills. Did he know what they were for? Did he know what was wrong with him? Was he going to tell the others? Or maybe, he was just being friendly.
Anthony hadn’t really talked to anyone other than his therapist for a long time, and small talk with other people was extremely uncomfortable. That’s why he chose to work the overnight shift at a shipping yard: he could keep to himself and no one would care. If only he could interact with other people—make friends like everyone else. Maybe, if he could get to that doctor, he’d finally be able to.
The group followed Frank and Eliza through the kitchen and down the rickety staircase to the cellar. Frank opened the door and led everyone in.
“As you all can see,” he said, waving his hand around, “there’s plenty here: food, toiletries, supplies—everything we need to survive.”
“It’s impressive, Frank,” Carter said. “But, even this much is not going to last a group our size for very long. Hell, from what I can see, it wouldn’t even last you two for another six months.”
“It would definitely seem that way, Stg. Townes,” Frank said. “But, take a look at this.” He pulled out the crumpled bag of potato chips from his jacket and placed it on the floor about ten feet away from the door. “Now, if I could have everyone leave the cellar for a moment.” Frank ushered everyone back out of the door. Anthony and a few others made their way up the stairs to make room for the ones still coming out. Once the entire group was out, Frank stayed on the landing and addressed them.
“This might seem a little weird at first.” He closed the door behind him and waited a couple of seconds. Then, he reopened, and Anthony heard the gasps of the few people who were still able to see into the room.
“What the hell?”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
It was like the days in school when everyone would whisper things to each other or share knowing looks while Anthony was left in the dark. His stomach trembled and his temperature rose. He looked around at the others who couldn’t see and saw anxiety on their faces as well. Thank God.
“Can the rest of us see what you’re all gawking at,” Aubree demanded from behind Anthony.
Everyone started making their way back into the cellar. When Anthony finally caught view of what was on the floor, his jaw dropped. There, where there had been a crumpled ball of plastic before, sat a fresh, unopened bag of potato chips. Frank bent over, picked them up, and opened them. He grabbed a chip and placed it in his mouth. Once he finished chewing, he held the bag out in front of him.
“Anyone want a chip?”
It couldn’t be real. The voices were just playing tricks on him again.
“Explain,” Carter ordered, taking the bag from Frank and examining it before passing it to the next person.
“Right,” Frank said. “Well, I know this might sound fantastical, but hopefully with everything you’ve all seen so far, it won’t be too hard to believe. If anything is used, broken, or empty, just put it in this cellar. When you close the door, the next time you open it, that thing will be like new.”
“Bullshit,” Carter said. “That can’t be real. It’s just some trick.”
“I assure you, Sgt. Townes,” Frank said, “it’s no trick. It can be hard to wrap your head around at first, but this cellar will renew anything you put in it.”
“I need to test this for myself,” Carter said.
In and out, the group put whatever they could think of in the room and closed the door. When they reentered, it was as good as new. Water bottles, lighters, one of the broken boards from upstairs. One time, Carter even put one of his socks in. When the door opened, the whole that had been in the toe was gone. Once he had picked it up, Frank addressed him.
“Do you see now? This is how we’ve lived here for almost thirty years. With this room, we never run out of supplies.”
“How does it work,” Michael asked.
“I don’t know. It’ll only happen if no one’s in the room. I’ve sat in here with the door closed for hours, waiting to see it for myself, but nothing happens. But, the second I leave and close the door and reopen it, the broken things fix and the empty things fill up.”
No one could deny it anymore. The room would bring back anything they used. Anthony let the hope inside him grow. He’d put his pill bottle on a shelf behind some tools when he was sure no one was watching. When they all came back in, the bottle was full. With this room, he wouldn’t run out of his medicine. He could keep the voices from taking over indefinitely. He wouldn’t have to fear losing control like he had when he first found out they couldn’t leave.
“So,” Frank said. “Shall we go to the gas station?”