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  • Writer's picturegnome chompsky

The Last Priesthood Holder to Leave the Building Is Responsible for Ensuring All Doors Are Locked

The fluorescent lights fluttered like nervous eyelids and then released the darkness into the long hallway, where it spread itself thick across the carpeted walls and crawled into the pits and hollows in the old white-washed cinder blocks, rushed noiselessly into the empty spaces in between. I pulled against the reluctant hydraulics of the glass-panel side door of the chapel, framed by beige yellow brick glowing sickly tangerine in the sodium lights of the empty parking lot. 


“Wait,” said a voice distantly from the far edges of the blackened hallway. A young voice, a young boy’s voice, I thought. A muffled voice struggling through doors and walls to my ears. I thought they were all out, had all gone home, had shuffled to their parents’ idling cars in their perpetual haze of teenage delirium, slouched and hooded. One must have stayed behind. I sighed and hissed the door back open, jangled my key ring back into my pocket to nest among loose change, placed a pale finger on the cracked ivory light switch to cast back the darkness. The lights stayed dark. I flicked the switch back and forth, no response from the fluorescence. A light mist of rain began to coat the glass door with a thin sheen of moisture. I sighed, pulled my mobile telephone from my pocket and turned on its flashlight to chase away some of the cobweb shadows. “Wait,” said the muffled voice from inside the building. “Don’t lock me in,” it said. “Please let me out,” it said. 

I stepped over the threshold and shone my light down the long bicolor hallway, lined by dark, wood-paneled doors closed over empty Sunday School classrooms. Frustrated, tired, I called out names. I thought they had all gone home, I had walked through the building, had shut off the lights. I wanted to go home, too. “Wait,” it called. “Don’t lock me in,” it said. “Please let me out.” The voice was coming from the double doors that led into the cultural hall and I padded my leaden feet toward them across polyester carpet the color of old stains. The air was cold and damp, the air smelled like the basement of an old library, smelled like cheap wood, mildewed paper, and the expired fabric of not quite rotting furniture. “Wait,” said the voice through the doors as I approached. “Don’t lock me in,” it said. “Please let me out.”

Swinging open the doors, I yelled more names as though to embody the voice with something familiar but received no response from the darkness. The light from my telephone made its way weakly across the sprawl of the cultural hall and shone dimly on the stage where a thick curtain of velvety slate hung heavily from the ceiling, hung limp and heavy from the ceiling until it brushed the stage floor with its fraying hem. “Wait,” said the voice from the far side of the hall. “Don’t lock me in,” it said. The hall was a yawning cavern of dark corners, empty dark corners. “Please let me out.” 

I followed my light across the room, a thickness filled my lungs, a cold thickness like autumn fog filled my lungs as I hurried toward the stage. I thought I heard music, a children’s hymn whose notes fell like shapeless droplets of darks water onto my head and ran wet down the back of my neck, a tuneless melody I couldn’t name. “Wait,” said the voice, the word drawn out now, scraped slowly across my ears, echoed echoless in my ears. “Don’t lock me in,” said the voice. “Please let me out,” said the voice, muffled as if through thin walls. 

I could tell now that it was coming from under the stage, through one of the small square doors under the stage that led to shallow tunnels where we stored long stacks of cold steel folding chairs, racks of chairs rolled clattering on Sunday evenings into the shallow tunnels under the stage. My skin felt taut across my face, curled at the edges of my mouth, and my heart was beating in whispers, was whispering to me something inscrutable, could not find the breath to give voice to its screams. “Wait,” said the voice. “Don’t lock me in,” it said. “Please let me out,” it said. 

“Of course I won’t lock you in,” I rasped through bone dry lips. “Of course I will let you out,” and I felt as though the room itself drew a sudden breath, a deep and sharp breath, an anticipatory breath. A sheen of moisture coated my irises and blurred the white light of my telephone, muddied the edges of my vision so the darkness at its borders muddled impressionistically with the harsh electric brightness. I caught the latch on the door, clicked the cold metal, pulled open the pale wooden panel to gaze past rows of gray lacquered steel chairs into the shallow tunnel, the shallow empty tunnel. I blinked and blinked again and clattered closed the tunnel door, then stood and called out to the dark far corners of the cultural hall and then to the heavy velvet curtain draped from the ceiling, draped so its hem gathered gently on the floor of the stage like still water. I called hello into the silent air, the cold silent air. I turned to go.

“Wait,” screamed the voice, the child’s voice. “Don’t lock me in,” screamed the voice. “Please let me out,” it screamed. “Wait,” begged the voice as I ran. “Don’t lock me in,” begged the voice as I hurled myself sweating onto the glass paneled door and fell sobbing into a pool of burnt orange street light and watched the hydraulic arm hiss and creak, hiss against its ungreased hinges and struggle against its mechanisms to a close until the latch clicked and the mist rain and tears ran down my face in rivulets. “Please let me out.” 


About the Author

gnome chomsky is known far and wide as a radical space mormon, the pope of mormon chili town, and that guy with the bangin' dinotopia tweet

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