Read part one here
Read part two here
Read part three here
“We have to go, now!” Larry exclaims, clamping down on the knob and signaling for me to follow. I got up, grabbing the documentation book before he waved his hand backward toward the monitor as he pulled the barricaded door open.
Once the door was open, Larry and I made an immediate dash to the right down the main hallway, our footsteps echoing as we picked up the pace. He led me to the rear of the building, which had me thinking we’d bust out the backdoor.
Instead, we stopped near the end of the hallway, which prompted me in my frantic state to question what it was we were actually doing. But before I could even utter a word, Larry leaned his body against the wall, his eyes squinted and he groaned like he was applying force to it.
I watched as a rectangular-shaped section of the wall suddenly swung inward. There was no handle or even hinges present, just a simple section of the wall opening up, like something out of a spy movie.
I didn’t have time to sit there and ask questions, I darted in with Larry, not bothering to even check my would-be surroundings until I was on the other end of the threshold.
We stepped into a decently sized room, something like twenty by twenty. The entirety of the walls on both the left and right are lined with massive storage servers. All I could practically hear was the sound of them whirring and humming. The change in temperature compared to the hallway we were just in was more than noticeable, and I’m sure they were at fault for it.
In the center and back wall, sat a large desk with four chairs, each seemingly having its own currently shut-off monitor perfectly aligned with it. I stepped forward in order to get a closer look, looking up and catching a glimpse of a web of cords and wires running along the ceiling in a tangled mess.
Larry pushed the section of the wall shut behind us, sealing us in for now.
“What… What is this?”
“Somewhere that we’ll be safe. For now.”
His tone came off more nervous than usual, which was understandable given the circumstances. But I couldn’t help the feeling that he was still hiding something.
“Are we able to use those for surveillance?” I ask, pointing to the monitors at the other end of the room.
“No, they just store footage that’s already been saved and archived. But there is something I wanna show you, something that I should’ve shown you by now.”
I look up at Larry, raising my eyebrows in an expression of suspicion, he catches on, returning my glare with one of his own.
“What’s with the look?” He grills.
“I feel like there’s something you’re not telling me,”
“Well you and I both know that I don’t really have a choice, but now that we’re in here, we can talk about whatever we want. Even if they have listening devices in here, the servers running are loud enough to cover up our voices if we keep them down.”
We approach the desk with the monitors, and Larry boots up the computer they’re hooked up to.
“You might wanna have a seat, it’s gonna be a long night.”
All four of the monitors suddenly switched on, each displaying different things, but it didn’t matter, because I focused in on the one Larry was viewing. He had a security footage archive program open, and the footage currently being displayed in the program was that of the elevator, the date in the corner was that of a week ago.
Larry then modified the date, changing it to a week before the date I was officially hired and put on the job. The footage then jumped to a paused frame of the date and time Larry had keyed in.
“What’s this about?” I ask calmly, sharing a glance with Larry before he returns his attention back to the computer.
“Incident Report 17-B. You wanted to know what happened to the guy who came before you? Well… Here you go.”
The frame of the footage is focused on the main hallway of the building, in which a young man stands in the middle of, dressed in black pants and a grey colored polo, along with a pair of black sneakers. the timestamp in the corner reads 4:30am.
He couldn’t have been older than his late twenties, in his hand he held a suitcase that he carried with him as he paced down the hall and arrived at the elevator. He presses the button in order to call it, Larry and I watch intently as he waits there for the several seconds it takes for it to arrive.
And once it does, he steps inside uneventfully, nothing strange or abnormal had taken place at that point in time.
Larry then switched the camera perspective to that of the lobby after the doors closed behind the man, which allowed us to see where he would be coming out of the elevator. We waited, and several seconds passed, the doors slid open, but it was completely empty, with not a single visible trace of him ever being in it.
“Weird, but why don’t we try to look at the elevator interior camera, maybe we can see why he didn’t come out” I propose, only for Larry to move his mouse and click a few times as he responded.
“You mean this?”
Larry then pulls up the feed to the elevator interior camera and leaves it suspended just a couple of seconds before the man is supposed to step inside. He hits play, and the footage immediately begins to become choppy, and in the blink of an eye, it becomes full-on static for twelve seconds, which was slightly over the amount of time the man was supposed to have spent inside the elevator.
“We’ve had several guys do everything they could to get ahold of what happened in that timeframe, but they weren’t able to pull anything. It’s gone, he’s gone, and we have no idea what happened to him. And it all went down on my watch.” Larry continued.
His eyes quickly lowered to the floor, and I noticed him go slightly limp, but it only lasted for a second, as he too seemed to notice his sudden decline in posture.
“Roger brings it up nearly every time he visits, has to make sure to remind me that I wasn’t competent enough to prevent it. His name was Jacob by the way, and he had a kid on the way, and I had to go up to his wife and lie right to her face, tell her that I hope that wherever her husband is, he’s alright and will find his way back to her. Nothing but a bunch of bullshit.”
A deafening silence emerges, and I sit there, looking at both Larry and the monitor in front of him. His head hung low, and I could tell that this still weighed on him far more than he was letting on.
“You weren’t there in the moment, there wasn’t a damn thing you could’ve done,” I say with a firm tone.
“Roger doesn’t see it that way, he’s happy to hit me over the head with it every opportunity he gets. But I know he didn’t give a single shit about that kid. Yet he walks around and talks about him like he was his son or something, makes me sick.”
“He’ll get what’s coming to him one day,” I posit in my best attempt to be reassuring.
“We can only hope.”
“I don’t wanna sound insensitive but I just gotta ask… The shadow? Do you know.. Do you know what, or even… Who it is?”
Larry didn’t answer right away, instead, he turned in his chair, facing me before he rubbed his forehead with a tired sigh.
“At most, my best guess is that it’s an avatar, or representative if you will, of the building itself. Every now and then, when a structure becomes… Angry, enough. It’ll manifest things that can act more directly on its will.”
“How.. Ho- you know what? Not even gonna ask.”
“Trust me, I wish I knew too, never a boring day here, that’s for damn sure.”
Larry and I both share a small chuckle, one that I realized I needed more than I thought. Those last several months were filled with nothing but stress and ongoing paranoia. The short moment was nice while it lasted, but an inevitable thought crossed my mind, a thought that prompted me to give voice to a question.
“How do you know this room will keep us safe from that thing out there?”
Larry freezes for a more, seemingly contemplating how he should answer.
“I don’t, not for sure anyway. But it’s our best chance until morning hits…” He begins before exhaling, indicating he had more to say.
“I’m sorry, for not telling you about more of this stuff sooner, probably would’ve never been in this situation if I had just let you know from the start, but we’ll make it out of here, we have to. I ain’t letting another person vanish on my watch, what happened to Jacob won’t happen to you.”
“Knock it off.” I shot back firmly. “I appreciate the apology but like I already said, Jacob wasn’t your fault, this isn’t you talking, it’s Roger, don’t let him get in your head. He wouldn’t be able to run this place the way you do if you gave him a two-hundred-page manual and a decade to read it.”
A short-lived smirk emerges on Larry’s face.
He and I were able to wait things out for the rest of the night. It was just after four in the morning before we left. And despite everything that had occurred, it was a genuinely peaceful drive home. The silence of the early morning darkness just before the busy rush gave me some time to think about my situation and everything Larry had told me.
I know that sooner or later things would come to some sort of confrontation between us and the higher-ups, but until then we were going to keep working together to expose these things as best as we could. Or at the very least, I was.
My ride home came to a halt when I pulled into my driveway, I did everything as usual, turning the car off and stepping out after gathering my belongings. However, I froze after getting a glimpse at my front door and noticing the porch light was off. This immediately put me off, I always had it set to be automatically turned on at eight-thirty every night. Always.
So I hesitated, and took a couple steps back toward my car before unlocking it again. I opened the passenger door before reaching into the glovebox to retrieve the pistol I had bought semi-recently at the time, figured my situation justified it.
I was no gun expert, but I had it loaded with the safety on, which I quickly switched off before I approached the house. I didn’t immediately head for the front door, instead opting to circle around the house and head to the back door.
But as I crept across my yard, that feeling of being watched emerged yet again, and I snapped my head around trying to look for any sign of a presence other than myself, but was only met with nothing but the quiet night, with the occasional crickets.
I gripped the pistol tightly and shimmied my way along the back exterior wall of the house. And once I reached the door, I used my free hand to dig into my pocket to retrieve my keys.
I cautiously unlocked the door as quietly as I could and slid inside, all the interior lights were off, just as I had expected. But I didn’t wanna turn them on, not just yet. Before moving any deeper into the house, I sent a text over to Larry, letting him know I arrived home safe, and that I would follow up with another text in the next thirty minutes.
Figured it would be best to leave some sort of paper trail. Just in case.
I kept quiet and gently shut the back door behind me, locking it as well. The silence in the house was deafening, and now there was nothing to break it up. Instead, I just stared off into the darkness of my own home, and a part of me felt like it stared right back.
Fortunately for me, I knew how to navigate the layout in the dark. I took my shoes off and just kept my socks on in order to make my footsteps more quiet while I began to search the house.
The living room, kitchen, bathroom, and cleaning closet were all secured and empty, I felt a relief unlike any other each time I found nothing in each location. Which means the last thing to check was my bedroom.
I maintained my light footsteps down the hall, never did I think I would be so grateful for having carpet instead of hard flooring. But I could see nothing had changed from when I left, the door to my room was just about halfway open, which was just how I had it before leaving for work.
I leaned in the door, pausing my breathing as I tried to listen for the slightest noise, but none came. I reached for the light switch next to the door and flicked it up to turn it on. But after a quick glance around, everything was just as I had left it. Not a thing out of place.
‘Weird’ I thought. Before lowering my gun and placing it on my nightstand table. The house was definitely secure, maybe it really was just a situation of me being paranoid and overthinking. But I mean, could you truly blame?
And although it hadn’t been thirty minutes quite yet, I pulled out my phone and began to text Larry. I get about two words in before I hear something that caused me to halt like a kid who had just been caught sneaking out at night, a voice, one that I recognized. One that I hated.
“Trust me, you’d be wasting your time, he won’t get it.”
Roger. Fucking Roger.
I didn’t even bother turning around or reaching for my pistol, mainly because I heard the sound of at least three others being chambered not far behind me. And any sudden movement would basically amount to a bloody suicide.
I raised my hands in the air while still facing forward as I heard the multiple sets of footsteps approaching.
“Guess you just really couldn’t keep sticking your nose where it didn’t belong.” Roger snarled.
“What happened to Jacob?” I barked in return.
“Jacob? Figures Larry would’ve told you, I’m sure you know plenty more than that too. We’ll have to do something about that.” He states with a threatening undertone.
I turned around, slowly but cautiously, now facing Roger and two security officers dressed head to toe in black gear, both with pistols drawn at me. I kept my hands in the air as we kept talking.
“If you’re gonna put me six feet under, you might as well do it quick.”
Roger shakes his head from side to side in a mocking motion.
“Eh, you’re more of an asset to me alive, Larry, on the other hand, well… His usefulness is starting to run dry.
Larry then motions for the security officer on his left to move forward, and he does, just before pulling his arm back, cocking a fist, and throwing a punch right at my head.
Everything went black before I registered any sort of impact. And I wasn’t sure how much time had passed while I was out cold. But it had to have been significant, as I had woken up in what appeared to be some sort of basement room.
The walls and floor were made from concrete, with wood beams running along the ceiling. Although I wasn’t sure about the exact dimensions of the expanse, it was something like twelve by twelve.
On the wall to my left sat a wooden ladder that led up to an also wooden hatch on the ceiling. Panic started to set in once I realized it was most likely locked or blocked off, and I was trapped down here, wherever this place was. Still, I climbed the ladder and tried the hatch regardless, even pounded on it a few times just for good measure. Nonetheless, it appeared that I was trapped. Of course, all my belongings were nowhere to be found as well, I had a pretty good feeling that I wouldn’t be getting them back.
In the middle of my futile escape attempt with the hatch, a faint humming sound originated from behind me, I turned and laid eyes on a chair that sat in front of a desk propped up against the opposite wall, with nothing but a monitor resting on it, which was turned on, and its screen displayed what looked to be a live feed of a room similar to mine. Concrete walls and floors, all the way down to the wood beams on the ceiling.
But my heart sank into my stomach once I saw what was in the center of this mirror room.
In the middle of the space was a black chair, and sat on it, or rather tied down to it. Was a battered and bruised Larry with a black eye and busted lip. He looked up directly at the camera, or whatever the source of the video was, almost as if he could see me. Hell, he probably could.
And for the first time since I met him, he looked utterly terrified.
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