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I was not scheduled to work that night, but dumb little me managed to allow my good for nothing manager to walk all over me. I didn’t like working the night shift. Especially not when it was only me and one other pizza delivery driver at the shop. It was dark out, almost midnight, and a street light flickered outside the only window in the back. Devin was out on a delivery, so it was just me.
We were open 24/7, but I didn’t understand why. Who was going to want a pizza at three in the morning? I asked myself that every day and without fail there was always at least one person asking for pizza this late at night. I gripped onto my apron as I watched a pre-recorded static soap opera on the tube television in the back. None of the lights were on in the shop except for in the back since our eating in service expired by nine.
I’d finally managed to calm myself down from the creepiness of this old Pizzeria when suddenly something like glass shattering sounded from the other room. I literally jumped out of my seat and stared at the closed door. My heart sank and my brain automatically played every terrible scenario in less than three seconds. From a robbery to a ghost, I didn’t leave anything out. When no other noise came from the room I slipped back into my chair and turned the TV volume down. If there was a robber I wasn’t about ready to let him know there was someone else here.
About ten minutes passed and I didn’t hear anything. When the soap opera ended I removed the RHS tape from it and replaced it with the next episode. Just as I did that, I heard a loud BANG. I froze in my spot, my eyes wide as I stared at my own petrified expression through the reflection of the glass. Just after that, a creek directly behind me. The door.
Through the reflection, I saw the heavy brown door opening ever so slowly. I gulped, setting the tape down and pretending I didn’t notice a thing. My heart beat against my chest like a mad drummer. My hands felt tingling and my body felt numb. I moved slowly to the door to the restaurant and walked through. Next, I closed the door slowly and was met with a black sheet in front of me. This part of the restaurant was pitch black, only bits of light managed to find their way in past the blinds. I took a step forward.
Directly behind me, I heard what sounded like footsteps creaking along the old floorboards. I walked forward, remembering the exact layout of the restaurant, and working on where to hide. My mind was running a mile a minute, but I took a few deep breaths. Making my way around the floor I found the salad bar. Using the key in my pocket I unlocked the small door where we would normally put extra napkins and utensils and slid inside. It wasn’t a very big space, but being a tiny four-foot sixteen-year-old girl had its perks. I slowly closed the door and found the latch to lock it.
Now, I waited.
After a while, I heard the door finally open and someone heavy stomp into the room. I covered my mouth and breath only enough to keep me alive. It was the most uncomfortable I’d ever been, barely breathing and laying on top of plastic knives and forks, but I wasn’t about to discover what this man wanted to me. After some silence, I heard the cash register open. Paper rustled against plastic. The man was picking up his pace. He was throwing the cash into what I guessed was a bag and slammed it shut again. Those heavy footsteps dragged along the carpet now. Heavy and getting louder. I stopped breathing. Plugged my nose and stiffened myself so I wouldn’t make any noise. I even bit my arm so I wouldn’t scream.
His footsteps stopped. They were the loudest they’d ever been. He was standing directly next to me. I heard the plastic bag move a little and his hand grab the handle of the salad bar door. He pulled it, but the door didn’t move. My back burned as the plastic knives dug even further into my back, but I didn’t move.
BANG. I flinched, but just slightly. I could barely hear the plastic rustle beneath me and I hoped that meant he couldn’t hear it at all. BANG. He hit the door again. I sunk my teeth into my arm, drawing blood. Finally, he gave up when the sound of a car engine sounded from outside. My heart sunk again. He might kill Devin.
I moved to my phone and silently texted him. My movements were slow, but they made no noise. I only hoped I could get him in time. I quickly found him in my contacts. It simply said, “robber”. Next, I called him, muting my phone as it runs.
Sometimes he didn’t look at his texts, but he always managed to answer the phone. I saw the icons change from ringing to the number counter. He picked up. I couldn’t hear a single thing he was saying. Eventually, he hung up.
The car door slammed shut and I could hear him walking along the gravel. He stopped. A new text came in from him. It said, “Are you safe?” I slid my finger across the keys as quickly as I could. I heard the man walk into the back room. The door creaked closed behind him. “In salad bar. Call cops.” I didn’t know if he’d understand what that meant, but I heard him run back into his car, start up the engine, and drive away.
My hands continued to shake. I pressed the phone to my forehead. My arm felt warm as blood trickled from my own bite mark. I stayed in the salad bar compartment for what seemed to be forever, but according to my phone, only three minutes went by. A while later I heard police sirens and car engines just outside the restaurant. The door opened and footsteps dragged against the carpet again.
“Where is the girl?” A man in a deep voice asked.
“In the salad bar.” I heard Devin’s voice. He sounded shaken up. Footsteps went over to the door of the salad bar. “Sam? Open the door.”
I moved the latch up and pushed the door open. Devin was kneeling just outside the door. The worry in his eyes. “Are you okay?” He looked at my arm, his eyes wide.
I climbed out of the compartment. My eyes stung in the light. “I’m fine.” My voice was more shaken than his. I tried getting to my feet, but my legs had fallen asleep. “I think he knew I was here, but he couldn’t open the door.”
“Did you get a look at the man's face?” An officer asked me.
I put my head down. “No.”
We checked the security cameras, but since we turned off all the lights only a shadow showed up. The police investigated the back room where I explained I heard glass shattering. Apparently, the man had broken the window in the manager's office and the loud bang I heard was him crawling through. He stole all the money in the manager's office and what we had in the cash registers. Luckily I had thought quickly and had that key on me. Who knows what would have happened had I not locked myself in the salad bar?
Unfortunately, we never managed to catch the robber because the cameras didn’t catch anything and I didn’t see his face. But from that point on we always kept the lights on, even at night, and I never worked the night shift ever again.