Chapter 27 – The Search
It took a while before I felt confident enough to return to my room. Even when I finally stood my stride was shakey and uncertain. Once I had stumbled back to my room I opened the window. The fresh air emboldened me and I began forming a plan for our escape. I would gather my things, which Anne had helpfully piled in the corner of the room. I checked the pack and its contents to ensure everything was secure and ready to move at a moment’s notice.
I was admittedly surprised to find that everything was still in place and unharmed. I had half expected that something would have been confiscated or destroyed, but everything seemed untouched. Breathing a sigh of relief, I set my pack and other things near the door so it would be ready and I stepped out into the hall.
I heard noises downstairs and could only hope that all three of the women were too preoccupied with other things to notice movement upstairs. The fact that no one had come to aid me in the bathroom gave me hope that they were either distracted or oblivious. Either way, I crossed my fingers and hoped that my plans would not be disturbed before I had a chance to execute them.
I glanced to either side of the hallway. The coast was clear and I had a plan. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure which way to go first. Bobbi’s was the closer room. I had a vague suspicion that Rick was in the greater amount of danger. I glanced to the closed door to my left once more and made my decision. I had little doubt that she could fend for herself for the few minutes it would take me to retrieve our male companion.
As I crept down the hall, I hugged the wall furthest from the stairs and hoped to minimize the chance that I would be spotted by an unlucky glance. Passing the bathroom door, it occurred to me that I could use looking for the bathroom as an excuse if I were caught. When I reached the far side of the hallway I realized that I could not remember which of the three doors on this end of the hall. I hadn’t been paying enough attention when I had last seen him. I was now regretting it. With three doors to choose from and no idea what might lie behind them, I found myself facing the worrying question of which to open first.
I impulsively grabbed and twisted the knob of the nearest door, swiftly opening the door. Despite my worries, there was nothing but a pile of old boxes and what appeared to be a great old sailors chest on the other side. I lifted an eyebrow and wish that I could have taken the time to explore the room. It was possible there were clues to the nature of this town, but I had no time to spare. Not now that my plan had been pushed into action. After slowly and quietly closing the door behind me, I turned and crossed the hall to open a second door. I found only a small stairwell behind it. I assumed that it led to the attic. Again, I passed it by and moved on.
The third door proved to be what I was looking for as the door swung wide. I spotted Rick’s backpack laying untouched and forgotten near the door. The bed was a mess, sheets and covers were thrown about in wild tumbles. The room had an odd smell, which I could not quite place and decided I did not care to knokw. There was plenty of evidence he had been here, but there was no sign of him or anyone else.
My face flushed with annoyance, I went back and double checked the other doors. I even crept up the stairs and glanced around the attic storeroom to see nothing but mounds of boxes. Rick was nowhere to be found. With each passing moment, I grew less annoyed and more worried. I had not been in my room with Anne for long. It was unlikely he would have settled in and left again already, particularly without being noticing. I had heard nothing to indicate foul play, but I had been admittedly distracted at that particular moment.
Bobbi. I still needed to find Bobbi and bring her into my plan, especially now that I knew Rick was missing. Maybe she had even heard something that could give us an idea of what had happened to Rick. I walked back down the narrow attic steps and glanced the hallway up and down once more. I saw no evidence that my absence had been noted, and I doubted it would unless I did something stupid. I slowly crept back and closed each of the doors I had left open and then returned to my room’s doorway. Once there, I took a moment to glance inside and ensure that my bags were still prepped to go. I had a feeling that my packs would be grabbed last, so I wanted them ready.
Assured that nothing had yet gone terribly awry (only partially with rick being M.I.A.), I snuck towards to Bobbi’s room. I considered knocking before entering,, but I decided that discretion was more important than modesty. Not to mention that traveling together and necessity had dulled the need for modesty in most cases. The bigger concern was actually that surprising her might have lead to startled violence or yelping from the young woman instead. A misplaced loud noise at the wrong moment could’ve potentially ruined everything. It was a risk I felt necessary, hoping that she would remain calm. I slowly turned the knob and pushed the door open. I softly whispered as I did so, “Bobbi. It’s me. I…”