Panic Room

Written by Leanne Bilyard

It was finally here, Linda had made it to her 20 year Taipan anniversary, she’d been looking forward to this night all year, the night she got to celebrate with a lavish dinner, colleagues by her side. As she walked into the restaurant, her eyes lit up. It was beautiful, far better than Lou and Amy had described it. The furniture was ornate, gilded and cloaked with silk tablecloths, and there were fresh flowers scattered around the room. A man in a tuxedo gently played the piano. Linda smiled; she loved that song.

A waiter handed her a glass of champagne: ‘Hello Ma’am, have you got a reservation?’

‘Ahh yes, I’m here for the Taipan Staff Milestone Celebration,’ she replied.

‘Excellent! Come this way,’ he smiled.

The waiter led Linda through the restaurant. As she passed the tables, she noticed that the food looked delectable! ‘Great’, she thought, ‘I’ve not eaten all day, I’ll definitely enjoy this meal!’

The waiter led her around a corner, away from the other patrons. Confused, she followed the waiter as he paused and waved his hand toward a heavy oak door, which was propped open in front of them. ‘A special evening deserves a special room,’ the waiter winked. Linda blushed, as she walked past him, she heard the familiar voices of her colleagues.

Allan called out across the room: ‘Ahhh Linda, we’ve been waiting for you!’

Before long, everyone was seated, the waiters moved around the table pouring drinks. One of them introduced himself to the group, he stood at the end of the table: ‘your entrée’s will be served shortly, we will leave you to enjoy your drinks.’ With that, the staff left the private room, and the heavy door swung shut behind them.

The private room was just as beautiful as the restaurant, with a wide sash window looking out over the Storey Bridge, at least five floors above the street below. Linda realised that she could no longer hear the piano, ‘what a pity,’ she thought. There was a breadbasket in the middle of the table, with a few pieces left, Linda reached out and took one. The minutes ticked by as they all sipped on their drinks.

Sammy remarked, ‘Do you think the waiters are coming back? I’m starting to get a bit hungry.’

‘They wouldn’t have forgotten about us out here, would they?’ asked Jess.

“Nonsense!’ said Al, ‘They’re probably just giving us some extra time to commemorate the occasion.’

Amy glanced at her phone. ‘No phone service. Weird,’ she thought. She checked the time and it had been almost an hour since the waiters had left them, they were all starting to get a bit restless. Allan stood up and cleared his throat, commanding the attention of the room: ‘I was going to wait until after dinner to do my speech, but under the circumstances, I thought I’d just do it now,’ he said. He paused and inhaled deeply. Not one word managed to escape his lips before the lights in the room flickered to black. Pauline and Mitch squealed in fright.

‘What’s going on!’ shouted Jade.

‘It’s just a power cut, don’t panic,’ replied Rick.

‘Easy for you to say, I’m starving,’ grumbled Troy.

Neil got up from the table, using the little light coming in from the window to illuminate his path to the door. He pulled the handle and the lock rattled. He pushed the door to see if it would open the other way, and nothing. He bent down and inspected the lock. ‘It’s an electronic locking system,’ he said, ‘we’re stuck in here.’ Amy stood up abruptly, she was not having any of it, she marched over to the door and began pounding on the wood.

‘HELLO! Can anybody hear us? We’re stuck in here!’

‘I think that door is soundproof, you can’t hear the piano from in here,’ remarked Linda.

‘Well what are we going to do? STARVE?’ exclaimed Owen.

The room erupted into panicked commotion. There was no phone service, no electricity, no food, apart from the remaining piece of bread in the breadbasket, and they had been seemingly forgotten about. Sammy flung open the window, ‘Somebody help us!’ he shouted, but there was nobody on the street below. He swung his leg over the window ledge, reaching out with his phone for a morsel of cell service.

‘What are you doing you maniac!’ shouted Jade, ‘We’re five floors off the ground!’

‘I can’t die in here man, I have a family!’ replied Sammy.

‘Nobody’s dying,’ interjected Amy, ‘what if we turn this tablecloth into a rope? We can abseil down?’

‘Oh, you’re going to abseil out of a window on a dodgy bit of cloth are you Amy?’ asked Neil sarcastically.

‘I’m not,’ replied Amy, ‘but you are!’

Neil protested, the entire roomed erupted once more into chaos. Troy and Owen approached the breadbasket. When they saw the remaining rations, they both began to panic. Starvation was not the way they wanted to go. Troy began to sob; Owen silently took the bottle of wine from the ice bucket, maybe this would stop them from feeling the increasing pangs of hunger.

‘I know!’ shouted Rick, ‘What if we try and short circuit the lock?’ He flung his pint of beer at the door as hard as he could.

‘There’s no power you wally! That isn’t going to work!’ yelled Jade.

‘What if we try to smash the door in?’ suggested Pauline.

‘I think that’s the best idea so far,’ said Al, ‘Right let’s clear off this table, we can use it as a battering ram.’

Linda started gently piling up the plates and glasses, moving them off the table, making sure they didn’t get damaged.

‘We don’t have time for this!’ shouted Mitch. He started throwing the tableware to the ground, splattering Jess with half a glass of red wine. ‘Mitch!’ she yelled, ‘that’s going to stain!’

 Once the table was clear they all gathered around; apart from Owen and Troy who were still getting drunk, I mean, nursing their hunger pains in the corner.

‘On the count of three we are going to lift and run as hard we can towards the door,’ instructed Al, ‘One… two… THREE!’

As the group charged toward the door, the lights flickered back on and the door swung open, but it was too late to slow down. What happened next was like a scene from Braveheart, the army of staff that stood behind the door, were bowled over as entrees flew helplessly into the air and hit the ground with a smash. The light now illuminated the mess they had made in the room. The plates and glasses were smashed, littering the floor, the tablecloth had been torn to shreds and was hanging out of the open window. Red wine was splattered across the walls and carpet. They had destroyed the place in the quest for freedom.

The waiter stood up, with food smeared across his uniform, ‘What happened in here?’ he exclaimed, ‘the lights were only out for fifteen minutes.’

‘Hey, you got the door open!’ slurred Troy from the corner, ‘Well done guys. This will be a staff milestone event to remember.’