The Lion, the Broom, and the Closet
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Every day, the students of Stuyvesant ponder some of the most pressing queries of our age. Among these questions, one concern towers over all others: what’s behind the custodian doors? For years, this puzzling issue has eluded some of the brightest minds of Stuyvesant, but today, one brave Humor writer reports their first-hand account of the labyrinth behind these mysterious doors.
I had always wondered what was behind the custodian doors. These entrances, sprinkled across the building, are surrounded by openable doors, but the ease with which they can be entered does not match that of their peers. Every 40 minutes, while their neighbors open their doors to the happy [citation needed*] pilgrims of Stuyvesant, these blocks (worse than senseless things) reject all arrivals. No matter the customs that surround them (or the pitiable folks asking for entry), these doors remain shut. I once tried asking the doors why they wouldn't open, but they simply stood there, expressionless.
That was where my suspicions began: why would these doors stand so menacingly all day, next to the bathroom of all places? What are they trying to do, or rather, what are they trying to hide? I had to know.
I first tried to force my way through these doors, but they didn’t move an inch. I even opened the fire alarms (yes, that was me at the start of the school year), but they didn’t even flinch at the sound. I kept trying for an entire week before I gave up and decided to bypass the doors by digging into the rooms instead.
It took five months and a few hundred plastic spoons (thank you, cafeteria), but I eventually got through the wall separating the bathroom and the inaccessible ninth floor custodian room. Surprisingly enough, I don’t think anyone noticed the hole in the wall (perhaps the view outside the window is too enchanting, or maybe holes in a wall are just a normal occurrence at Stuyvesant).
I first pushed my backpack through the hole and then finally wiggled into the room on the other side.
The room was more spacious than I had initially thought. It was narrow, but surprisingly long: some 60-odd feet from the door to the end of the room. Across its entire length, the walls were covered with overlapping layers of paper titled “Hallway Etiquette.” At its end, the room connected to a hallway three times its length.
Compared to the room, the hall looked relatively barren. There were few features in the hallway except for three unmarked doors, each spaced out across the cartoonish distance.
This was when my curiosity started gnawing again. Why would the custodian doors, in their infinite resilience, guard nothing of interest? There must be something here. After checking my watch for time, I decided to thoroughly explore this hallway, whatever it took.
Walking to the first unmarked door, I half-expected it to be locked, but it opened without any trouble. Eagerly, I looked behind the door to see a gray stairwell with the words “First Hudson Staircase” emblazoned above. Despite its proud name, the stairwell was a disappointment: no PDA or hard drugs.
With my excitement slightly bruised, I went to open the second unmarked door. Like the first one, the second door easily opened; but instead of a stairwell, the door opened to a closet room.
This room appeared to be storing arms: lying on the left and right walls of the room were four wooden shields, each manufactured from a heater cover section and a piece of metal stapled to the back; and along the back wall, there was a stack of 30 hand sanitizer bottles with the words “Holy Water” fiercely scribbled across the labels. Above the stack, a sign read “Containment Armory: Employees Only.”
Walking to the third unmarked door, I was distracted by something at the end of the hallway. Straight down the hall, I saw a locked metal gate guarding something too dark to see. Naturally curious, I shined my flashlight beyond the bars and peered all the way to the first floor. To my shock, I glimpsed a pod of hungry Staten Island Tech students wading through the puddle at the bottom. Frantically looking around, I found a sign in front that read, “DO NOT FEED THEM. They are not friendly.”
Before I could process what I was seeing, the pod scattered and some of the students began climbing toward my light. They got to the fifth floor before I threw my flashlight into the puddle and heard the climbing cease. Slightly reassured, but still shaken by the climbers, I decided to continue to the third unmarked door.
The third door opened to a panel of buttons and two large screens, each carrying the image of a gray stairwell in two separate locations. Looking around, I didn’t see any labels or signs on the walls or on the buttons, but while I was frantically searching the room for information, I saw two backpacked figures running up the stairs in the left panel. Realizing what the camera was surveying, I ran to the closet room to retrieve a shield and a bottle of the “Holy Water.”
Running to the first door, I heard loud footsteps behind it, and as I opened the door, I came face-to-face with a Tech student (unfazed by their nine-floor sprint). They lunged at me as I tried to push them back into the stairwell with my shield. As we struggled, I saw my assailant’s companion behind them and I uncapped my bottle. Pouring the sanitizer on their flesh, the struggling student screamed in pain as their skin burned beneath the holy liquid. Seeing this, their companion fled back down the stairs, leaving their compatriot to die.
As my assailant dissolved into the floor, I ran out of the hall with my shield and backpack, emptying the bottle on the doorway. As I approached the custodian door, I frantically prepared to pass through the hole to the bathroom. First throwing my backpack through the gap, I then dived through, blocking the passage with the shield afterwards.
Still reeling from the excitement, I checked my watch as I leaned on the bathroom wall, but (to my surprise) barely five minutes had gone by since I had entered the room. Confused, but also vaguely relieved, I walked away from that strange place and never returned.