A few seconds after, we heard a loud and deep voice through the speakers: Attention everyone, there has been a situation. Please stay calm. I repeat, please stay calm.
At that moment, all of the kids were freaking out and wondering what the “situation” was exactly. It seemed like we were the only people staying calm; everybody else in the building was running from here to there as fast as they could, which made all of us start freaking out even more.
Everyone was asking the chaperones what to do and what was going on and things like that. The loud voice came on the speakers again; but, it was different. It sounded like the guy was angry or he was yelling into the microphone. Either way, he was scaring people to death. He started calling sections of the building to come to the security checkpoint at the front. We all knew something had gone totally wrong and somebody was in the building with something they weren’t supposed to have.
The chaperone said the Library of Congress has a collection of valuable bibles and somebody could possibly be trying to steal them. Soon enough, we saw some of the other STEM kids get pulled up to the security checkpoint to be patted down. As soon as we saw them walk by, we all got silent and nervous. Sadly, we were the next group called. We went through the same process. Hours later, they said they were through with group calling and were going to search the whole building to look for anybody who might be hiding.
We watched security guards walk around the library for hours. The only way to move was if you talked to the security officers and asked for a pass. One officer told us that our chaperone was right—somebody had tried to steal one of the bibles. The man said that they found a couple of suspicious people but neither had it and both swore that they did not try to take it.
The security guards were instructed to question every single person, even the tour guides and other staff. It took a while before the security guards got to our group. Five tall men in all black suits with black hair and black sunglasses interrogated us one by one. From the beginning, they didn’t think it was us but they had to check, just to be safe. They said they had found four people who were nervous or seemed out of the ordinary with their actions. All of those people were later put on a lie detector. They all passed and it seemed like security was running out of things to do.
They went around the library in circles for what seemed like an eternity and then, another announcement. It was about us. They said they couldn’t let us out but they would allow us to make a call to our parents. They said we could do this again once we were heading back to school. Some of us had no hope on getting out of the library that day and thought we were going to have to stay overnight. Some thought we were never going to get out and we were going to die in there. Most of us, though, had spirit and were wishing they would just find the person responsible for this horrible crime.
Ten minutes later, a different man’s voice came through the speaker. He said, “Sorry for the inconvenience; I don’t know how we didn’t notice this but the bible we were looking for was just on the wrong spot on the shelf. As I say again, I am truly sorry about this mistake.”
Sixth grader Tucker Snead, Central Middle School, Anne Arundel County, used his trip to the Library of Congress to write this mystery.