Jeani Rector

For July, The Horror Zine's Editor: Jeani Rector

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Jeani Rector


by Jeani Rector

Craig parked in the empty lot and got out of the car, his windshield reflecting the glare of the brightly lit school sign. He was tired. Somehow his Monday night shift had come too soon.

He studied the school as he walked toward it. High school kids had to be the messiest people on the planet. He knew if he had paid attention and worked harder during his own high school days, he’d have a better job than this by now. But he hadn’t so this was the result.

“Make the best of things,” his mother always said. “Being a janitor is an honest living.” Yeah, and all good dogs go to heaven.

Craig took the large black cleaning can out of the closet, and began to lug it towards the first classroom. It was about the size of an urban garbage can, made of hard plastic, and it was on wheels. It contained all the supplies he needed to do his job.

He cleaned the brightly lit classrooms first. They were the easiest; the teachers always watched the students and made sure they didn’t disrupt the rooms too badly. He moved on to the gymnasium, another fairly easy clean.

After he did all he could in the gym, he knew it was time for the rest of his job. He stepped out into the night air, locked the gym door behind him, and started walking across the grassy quad towards the bathrooms, still lugging his cleaning supplies behind him.

He hated cleaning the bathrooms the most. They were in their own small building, boys on one side and girls on the other. Who knew what he would find there; sometimes things he didn’t even want to look at, much less touch, so he always left the bathrooms for last.

Everything was locked at night, even the bathrooms. He started fumbling with his key ring as he walked, not seeming to find the right key, when suddenly he understood why he was having so much trouble. He couldn’t see the keys very clearly.

Craig hesitated and glanced around. Why was it so dark? He looked ahead and noticed all the poles containing fluorescent lights that surrounded the freshman bathrooms were black. None of the lights were working.

Everything seemed quiet—too quiet. The sense of stillness was overpowering. There was simply no sound, no motion, as if all the night creatures were silently hiding; watching and waiting. No crickets chirped; no owls screeched.

The intense stillness was finally broken, and movement began again, as though the world was releasing the breath it held. A slight wind picked up. A creaking noise sounded as two twisted limbs of an old, gnarled tree rubbed together in the soft breeze. The seed heads of ornamental grasses fluttered with a sighing sound. Clipped boxwood shrubs rustled as branches shuddered in the wind.

Craig felt spooked. He wished he had a flashlight, more for cold comfort than for the visuals it would give him. Everything seemed threatening in the dark; everyday things seemed to take a sinister undertone. It was more of a mood than a lack of sight.

He wanted to turn around and go home but knew he couldn’t. He needed this job, as lousy as it was. He couldn’t afford to lose it.

You’re not a little kid, afraid of your own shadow, he told himself. Man up.

So he started walking towards the bathrooms once again, resolving to clean them and then move on. It was what he did five nights a week. This night would be no different. So what if none of the lights were working?

When he reached the overhang of the building, it seemed even darker under there. The roof shaded what little light the moon delivered. The bathroom building was brick, and felt cold to his touch as he leaned against it, fumbling with his keys. God, why couldn’t he find the right key?

Finally he felt it, the small one with the knob on the tip. Next he had to feel the door to find the keyhole. As his fingertips glided over the metal doorjamb, he noticed how cold it was, colder than the brick. Maybe he had never noticed the temperature before since he could normally see it and didn’t have to feel it.

The key connected with the lock, and Craig pushed the door open. He reached to the wall for the light switch. He found it and flipped it up.

Nothing happened. The bathroom remained dark.

No way was he going into that pitch black bathroom! He would have to call the school office in the morning and explain the situation, that he didn’t feel safe because none of the lights were working. They couldn’t fire him for that, could they?

Craig began to turn around when he dropped his key-ring. He cursed as he heard it bouncing into the bathroom, jangling as it tumbled and rolled the keys end over end.

Oh my God, I can’t go in there!

But his car keys were on that ring. Unless he retrieved them, he had to spend the night in these dark school grounds. Which fate was worse?

He needed the keys. He knelt on the cement floor of the bathroom, feeling the coldness of the stone on his knees all the way through his pants. He held the door open with his foot as he leaned over and began feeling around the cement floor, his fingers doing what his eyes could not, searching for the key ring.

He realized that the keys must have fallen further into the room than he initially thought. He crawled forward, and his foot slipped from the door and it slammed shut with a bang. Craig could not suppress a small scream before he realized that the door only locked from the outside. From the inside, it could be opened. He was not locked in.

He noticed he was panting. Trying to slow his breathing, he gathered his wits about him and once again began feeling over the cement floor for the key ring.

I can do this. I am not afraid of the dark.

His fingers groped the cement and he felt something on the floor that gave a little at his touch. Craig hesitated, then touched the thing again. It felt wet and…did he feel it move?

A sour scent of musty brine assaulted his nostrils. Craig jerked his fingers back and decided to get the hell out of the bathroom, keys or no keys. He tried to rise to his feet but his legs were like rubber beneath him. He staggered; his body rocked with fear, and made an attempt at reaching the door.

He heard the thing slam against him more than he felt the blow, and understood that whatever was with him in this bathroom was big. He could hear someone sobbing and realized it was he who was doing the crying.

Please God, get me out of here! Please God please God

The creature dragged him down to the floor with its weight. He tried to push it off, but he couldn’t seem to grasp it. Its surface was slimy and his hands slipped off.

He tried again to shove the wet, cold bulk with all his might and finally made contact. His hands seemed to sink into rubbery flesh that enveloped his fingers and didn’t slow the assault. Stench of rotted seaweed and polluted ocean filled his nose and his panic rose to desperation.

He pulled back his arm and landed a punch on what he hoped was the face area. The thing grunted and then made a growling sound.

Craig tried to shove his forearm backwards, because he knew that a sharp elbow could be an effective weapon, but he was disoriented in the dark and didn’t know where to aim. He was aware of intense, searing pain. It felt like the creature was attacking him for an eternity, although what was left of his rational thoughts assured him it had only been for a few seconds.

He managed to roll out from the creature’s grasp. He hoped with all his might that he was rolling in the right direction, towards the door. He honestly didn’t know.

And suddenly he felt the door, and he cried out loud with relief and renewed hope. He shoved the door open and the cool outside air slapped his face. He staggered to his feet and began to run across the grassy quad; a loping, lopsided gait because his left leg wasn’t functioning properly.

He felt an adrenaline surge as he realized he was going to make it. He was going to escape whatever beast had been in the bathroom. He was going to survive!

And then behind him, he heard the bathroom door open again as the thing came out.

the best

While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?

Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Dark River Press, Macabre Cadaver, Blood Moon Rising, Hellfire Crossroads, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, and others.







































Jeani Rector Jeani Rector