"You mean she stopped working, just like that?"
"Why did she leave?"
"Didn't she say anything?"
Mrs. Banks didn't reply their queries. She just strode to the end of the room and raised her voice, "LISTEN HERE, CHILDREN! Now, it has come to my attention that recently some of you are getting overly concerned with the Secret Room. May I remind you that you are all strictly prohibited from entering it. Strictly prohibited, I repeat. Anyone caught will be punished even more severely than ever before. Do I make myself clear?"
Everyone nodded, even the nice ladies.
"DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?" She suddenly boomed once more, catching everyone by shock. They nodded meekly.
She glared one last time at them three and walked off in a huff.
"This is getting ridiculous, man." Jimmy said out suddenly to Will just as they were getting ready for bed. "First Stella appears out of nowhere in the middle of the night, then she starts crying and screaming. And now she's gone without a trace."
"Do you really believe she's dead?"
"If so, who killed her? Mrs. Banks wouldn't dare, would she? I mean, she'd get thrown into jail or something, right?"
Will shrugged. "Heck, maybe she locked her up in the Secret Room."
Jimmy opened his mouth to speak, but froze. "Will...that's it! Do you think that..."
"She locks people up in the Secret Room?"
"Yeah! That explains those two fingers you saw, and...and the bloody marks underneath!"
A flurry of possibilities raced through the boys' minds. Everything from Mrs. Banks motives to the identity of those trapped inside, to what was being done to the prisoners inside. The more they thought, the more they said; and the more they said, the more excited they grew.
"Think about it, Will!" Jimmy's eyes danced in the dim light. "Stella can't be anywhere else but trapped in the Secret Room! If only we could talk to her somehow..."
Will grinned broadly, holding up a pencil and a notepad.
Moments later, the two boys found themselves outside the Secret Room once more, hastily scribbling a note in the dark.