Paige H. Perry
Date Night with Anna and Alex
“Are you ever going to tell me where we are going, Alex?” Anna asked.
She’d spent the last ten minutes peering out the passenger window of Alex’s car, trying to figure out where they were going. So far, none of the streets he had driven down looked remotely familiar. She was even thinking he was purposely driving in circles, so she couldn’t figure it out.
He glanced over at her and chuckled. “You don’t have a patient bone in your body, do you?”
“You’ve been teasing this out for a week!” Anna said as she gave him a playful glare. “And now you’ve been driving around in circles for half an hour. You keep this up, and you’ll need to take me back to the restaurant for a second piece of cheesecake.”
Alex laughed. “All right, all right. I’ll get us there.”
Even though he seemed to head in a new direction now, Anna still didn’t recognize the route. Just when she thought she couldn’t be more confused, he pulled up in front of what looked like an abandoned warehouse. She examined the outside of the building, her brow furrowed, as he parked the car.
“Surprise!” he said when she looked back at him and raised her eyebrows.
“You’re lucky this isn’t a first date,” she said when he didn’t explain what they were doing there. “This would be the point where I’d be calling Claire to get me out of here.”
He laughed again. “Well, I’m glad it isn’t our first date, and I’m glad you aren’t trying to leave.”
“What are we doing here, Alex?”
“If you humor me for just a bit longer, I’m sure you will approve. At least I hope you will.”
“Well, now I’m intrigued, so how about we get this show on the road?”
Alex nodded toward the building and said, “Let’s get going, then.”
Anna joined him in front of the car and shook her head as she looked at the warehouse in front of them. What in the world could go on in that building that would have Alex so excited? And why would he bring her here for a date night?
She could tell from the big smile on his face that he was eager for her to check out whatever he had planned. She took his hand in hers and squeezed it. Whatever he had planned, she was sure she would have a great time.
When they approached the door, Alex gave her another big smile before pulling it open and letting her walk in before him. A big welcome desk and a sign attached to the wall above it that read Star Investigator Escape Room caught Anna’s attention immediately.
“Ooo, this was a good idea, Alex,” she said, her face lighting up the moment she realized what was going on. “I’ve been wanting to do one of these!”
“Some people from work when to this one a couple of weeks ago,” he replied. “They said it was a lot of fun.”
“Welcome!” a woman at the desk said as they approached. “You must be Alex and Anna. We’ve been expecting you. Have you ever done an escape room before?”
“I’m afraid not,” Anna said. “But I’m excited to try it out.”
“Great!” she replied and came around the desk to greet them. “I’ll show you to your room and explain how things work. You’ll have half an hour to escape your room based on the puzzles you find in the room. If you escape, you will get a fun t-shirt.”
“Well, that sounds easy enough,” Alex said.
They followed the woman until she stopped in front of a solid door and used a badge to open it. Inside, they found a room that resembled a bedroom. There were items scattered all over the room, and Anna immediately started looking for clues.
“All right,” the woman said and pointed to a television on the wall. “This is your room for the evening. After I leave, there will be a video that plays on the screen there that will fill you in on the story of the room. It will give you a clue that should get you started.”
“Thank you so much!”
“Oh, and one more thing,” the woman said as she took a step toward the door. “You can press that button by the door if you want to leave. We don’t lock you in for real. Also, you can press the play button on the remote to get a clue. You’re allowed three.”
“Great!” Anna said. “I’m sure we’ll be just fine.”
Anna gave Alex a big smile as they waited for the woman to leave. The moment the door closed, a video began playing on the screen. An ominous voice began the tale…
“Long ago, there was a woman who spent her entire life in this room. From childhood through her adult years, she never left. Even after a tragic death at the age of 30, she has remained in this room. Her spirit hates guests, so you should leave as quickly as possible. Whatever you do, stay away from her prized doll collection. She grows angry when those are disturbed.”
The lights flickered three times as the video faded and an electronic clock on the wall began a 30-minute countdown.
“Well, I say the first thing we need to check out is that doll collection,” Anna said with a grin.
“I thought the video said to stay away from them?” he asked with a wink.
Together, they moved to the bed and began picking up the dolls one by one. When they picked up the third doll, a loud bell rang, and a door opened underneath the bed. Alex opened the door further and reached inside. When his hands emerged, he was holding a child’s jewelry box.
“Looks like there is a lock on that thing,” Anna said. “Wonder how we get it open.”
“Hey, this box has the same picture as what’s above the bookshelf over there,” he said.
“You think that’s connected?”
“Probably so. I’ll check those books if you want to check the toys.”
Anna followed Alex across the room and began flipping through the books on the shelf.
At first, she didn’t think they were useful until she noticed there were numbers scrawled on the back of them.
“Found our numbers. You want to try them in the lock?”
“Good job! Let’s try them out.”
Sure enough, when they changed the numbers on the lock to match what was on the back of the books, the lock popped open, and the jewelry box began playing music. Suddenly, the ominous voice was back.
“You’re doing great so far. But you need to hurry. She’s growing angry that you’re here. If you want to escape her wrath, you’ll need to find an escape route that will keep you free from her icy grasp.”
“The fireplace!” Anna said after the voice grew quiet again. “She said something about icy. I bet something is going on with that fireplace.”
She and Alex darted toward the fireplace and soon found a hidden panel that slid open. A picture of a little girl hung behind the panel in a frame, but the sections of the picture were all mixed up. Anna touched one section and it moved.
“I bet we have to slide these back in order so they make the picture right,” she said.
“Let’s do it.”
It was tricky, but after several minutes of sliding pieces around, they got all the pieces of the picture back in the right order. A new bell rang when they finished, and the entire fireplace swung away from them to reveal a second room.
“Guess we’re on to the next part of this challenge,” Alex said as they pushed their way into the next room.
The fireplace closed behind them when they entered the room and the voice returned.
“You’ve almost escaped, but now your journey gets even more dangerous. You’ve entered the family’s private living room, which is sacred to the family. Now is not the time to linger. Hurry before they find you!”
Anna and Alex looked around the room in confusion for a few seconds before Alex pointed at a clock on the wall that didn’t appear to be keeping the correct time. “Hey, she said something about time, and that clock isn’t working correctly. Maybe there’s a clue there.”
“Wait, it’s set to six o’clock,” Anna said. “Do you think it might be a direction?”
“Good idea,” he said and pointed to a painting of an apple tree on the wall. “Does that tree have twelve apples on it?”
“I believe so,” Anna said, “which could mean that six o’clock is on the opposite wall.”
Alex walked toward the wall with Anna on his heels.
“There’s a keyhole here,” he said. “Wonder where the key is…”
A new bell sounded, and the voice returned. “Stop playing games. You only have ten minutes remaining before she returns.”
Anna spun around in the room until she spotted a stack of board games in the corner. “Games!”
She hurried to the stack and began going through the various boxes. About halfway through, she found a metal key stuck inside the game’s playing board.
“Found a key!” she said and hurried back to Alex.
He grinned and stuck the key in the lock. More bells rang, and the wall in front of them slid open. When they stepped through it, they found themselves back in the business's lobby. The woman who had helped them get started smiled at them as they approached the desk again.
“Congratulations!” she said. “Looks like you two are the big winners of the night. I’ll get you set up with your free t-shirts!”
She disappeared behind the counter and Anna turned to hug Alex. “Thank you for this. It was really fun.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” he said and leaned down to kiss her.
“I’ll gladly be trapped in a scary room with you anytime,” she replied when he pulled away.