Munir climbed through the broken first floor window and dropped to the dingy tiled floor. Glass and leaves creaked under her light feet. She checked her phone. December 31, 2019. 11:13pm. Perfect. She silenced her phone and put it in her black drawstring backpack and took out her flashlight instead. It shone off the brick walls of the abandoned building.
The building was located behind the new casino, separated by an overgrown field. Munir guessed the casino was an attempt to hide the building, as if the uncut trees didn’t do that. Would’ve been easier just to demolish this huge eye sore.
Her flashlight reflected off pieces of broken glass that were scattered across the floor. A memory of flashing lights ran through her head. Blue and red lights cast shadows of trees through the woods as she zig zagged away from the roads. She had spent that night egging houses around town. Everyone who was throwing a New Year’s Eve party got a few eggs to compliment their Christmas lights. She was only caught because one party attendee was an off duty city police officer. Luckily, she knew the woods better than they did. Plus, they weren’t going to turn the dogs on a high school prankster. It’s not like she broke much.
This was her New Year’s tradition. She brings in the new year doing something illegal. The tradition had started accidentally when she was thirteen. She walked in on her older sister having a few friends over in the basement and the had snuck beers past their parents. Little Munir wanted to be rebellious and try a few beers. A few hours later, she was drunk. It’s not like her parents cared much, though.
She dusted off the top of a desk and saw a flat calendar marking September 1987. There were a few of these desks pushed together to form a half circle. One chair was missing a wheel, another had the stuffing pulled out by some poor animal. Munir sat on the third one and spun around. It creaked and squealed, protesting from years of disuse and weather abuse. When it stopped she was facing a staircase in the corner of the building.
Her feet stepped over books and downed shelving units on her way to the staircase. It did this weird half turn halfway up the steps that allowed her to see over the rest of the building. While climbing the stairs, another past New Year’s Eve night crossed her mind.
Three years ago, her and a few friends had snuck into the highschool. They left a window unlocked on the ground floor the last day before break. It was a window out of sight of one of the few security cameras around the school. They had maped it out, go through Ms. Jameson’s ninth grade English class, across the hall into the library, and up the staircase next to the school’s only elevator meant for lazy teachers and injured students. From the library’s second floor, into the hallway and right there were three classrooms out of sight of the cameras. They spent the better part of that night rearranging desks, writing in journals and changing lesson plans, and overall making the rooms a mess. The principal held an assembly after break promising he would catch whoever did the “Heinous and ugly crime.” He never did.
Munir chuckled to herself thinking of the spittle flying off his double chin.
On the top landing of the building there was a room with a large, still intact, window. The door was off kilter and fell completely off its hinges when she pushed it. Must’ve been the manager's office. Inside was a large desk situated in front of a bookshelf that ran floor to ceiling and wall to wall. There were two chairs in front of the desk and a coffee chart under the window. Munir sat in the chair and put her feet on the desk, crossed.
“Now, see her, Mr. Jacobson,” She said in a deep voice and took a fake drag of a cigar. “This quarter’s projections are slipping from last quarter and your actions may be to blame.” She opened a rusty desk drawer and found half a bottle of old whiskey. “Oh. Mr Jacobson. Today might be your lucky day.” She unstoppered it and took a swig, and immediately couched it back up. “Oh, poor taste, old man.” And took another swig.
Munir got up from the desk and walked back out to the landing. From here she could see the office floor below. If she blinked fast enough she could see this office operational. The front desk next to the door, sales in the first corner, accounting in the back, supply shelves under the stairs. She shrugged and set her flashlight down. There was too much dust and rubble for it to stand upright so she leaned it on the ground instead. She unslung her backpack and took out two cans of spray paint, purple and black. She turned back to the manager’s office window and tossed one of the can’s lids. It hit the flashlight, moving it a little.
She paid it no mind as she started to paint the window. Her creation looked like a tree, or what looked like a tree to her, with its roots strangling the Earth. The branches were in purple while the Earth was in black. She was starting to add shading when she heard a noise from the first floor from the abandoned office building.
“Through here!” It was a voice.
She gasped and dove for the flashlight, turning it off in haste, and crawled into the manager;s office. She peeked around the doorframe and saw two bulky figures with their own flashlights cross the floor. They were shining their lights into all corners of the building.
“They reported the light coming from the second floor,” One of the flashlights skirted the top of the stairs.
Munir stuffed the spray paint and flashlight into the bag and pulled out a black hoodie. She slipped it on, throw up the hood, and pulled the strings tight and tied them together. She looked out from the doorway again and saw the lights on the landing of the stairs. Just a few more steps. She bunched her feet up under her and evened her breathing. When the flashlights turned to the manager’s office, she pushed off from behind the wall and gripped the rickety safety rail in front of it.
“Stop!” The flashlights found her.
Munir launched herself over the rail, pulling a section out of its fittings, and sailed until her feet hit one of the desks below. Pain radiated up her right ankle as she rolled from the impact and covered her head. The rail crashed behind her, ringing off the desk frames. She smiled and sprinted for the window she came in, seeing the front door adjar now. Her foot slipped off glass in front of the window and she fell to the grass outside. She pushed herself to her knees, only to be forced back down.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
Her hands were jerked behind her back. Another set of hands helped pull her to her feet. They spun her around and she was face to face with two police officers.
“Trespassing on New Year’s Eve, huh?” One shook his head at her.
“And look, that was fresh spray paint,” The other shuffled through her bag and pulled out a can.
“Hey, get out of my stuff!” Munir jerked with her shoulders.
“Come on, Missy. Let’s get you home to your parents.”
The officers marched a limping Munir to their cars parked farther rout into the field, closer to the actual road. The whole time debating amongst themselves if she was old enough to be charged with trespassing and vandalism, since she had left her ID home and refused to tell them her name. They stuffed her in the backseat and talked outside. She threw her hair over her shoulder and huffed out of annoyance. Maybe I should just tell them I’m seventeen so they’ll let me go. Oh! I’ll even get them to drive me home, my own flashing Uber. She rolled her eyes.
Munir looked at the radio on the dashboard and found the clock. She burst out laughing, threw her head back and almost cackled with joy. The time was 12:01am.