Read Part one here
Okay, so it seems there were enough of you genuinely interested in my last post to justify typing up this one here. Yes I am still in one piece, and no one from my place of work suspects or knows about my previous post. So, just like on that first post, I will continue to use false names and aliases in order to preserve my own security.
I guess I should resume where I last left off, which would be informing you all of when I learned about the true nature of my job. Sort of. It starts when I met with Larry at the diner he had told me to when I spoke to him in his office about my… concerns shall I say.
I arrived, the diner was moderately busy, we had decided to meet in the late morning, or the transition period between breakfast and lunch. Which was actually rather smart, coming in here while it was completely swarmed and discussing what we would be discussing would be foolish, we want just enough people in here creating enough noise to drown out our conversation. But not enough to where we’re packed in so close that someone could potentially eavesdrop on the discussion without us noticing.
Larry was seated towards the back of the diner in a booth, he waved me down once noticing me, and I headed over, smiling at a waitress on the way in order to appear more cordial. Now that I look back, I was maybe overdoing it just a bit.
“Glad you made it.” Larry greets me as I sit down.
“You ready to talk shop?” I grill impatiently.
“Yes, but let’s order something, makes us look less odd, just wanna make sure we cover all of our bases, it’ll be on me though, so get what you want.”
It was after Larry and I’s waiter came over and we placed our orders that he took a deep breath and stopped to seemingly gather his thoughts.
“So.” He begins in a hushed tone, cupping his hands together like a father about to have a serious talk with his child.
“There’s not really any way that I could put this without it sounding… Crazy, I guess would be the best word to use here, but do you happen to believe in the supernatural Olivia?”
I was taken aback by his inquiry. At the time, I was more than a little skeptical when I came across ghost-hunting shows or supposed found footage of paranormal events taking place. But even back then, only a matter of weeks into my job, I was a lot more willing to accept the idea of greater forces than ourselves out there.
“Let’s just say I haven’t closed myself off to the possibility,” I reply to Larry.
“Alright, so some of this stuff I’m about to tell you is not even the full picture. The true details are far above even my clearance level, but I’ll tell you what I know.” He posits, just before taking a sip of his drink.
“Can I… ask why you’re so willing to do this? Why you’re so willing to put your job at risk just for me to know about this stuff? I know I asked for it, but why stick your neck out for me?”
“Because I need someone else I can talk to about this stuff quite frankly, there’s only so many times I can go home to my wife and kids and pretend like the things I see, the things I hear about are completely normal. Every night I go home I tell them lies on top of lies about what I do, it’s necessary though, last thing I need is to risk their safety. Keeping it all to myself just gets so tiring after a long time. And sure, you can bust my balls and tell me this is what I signed up for, it is. But at the end of the day I’m just a man, nothing more, nothing less, and keeping this all locked up inside drives me crazy.”
“Well.” I begin. “Fair point. But it still puts you on the cliff-edge, is that really worth the potential cost of your job? Your life?”
Larry pauses, sighing softly before replying.
“I’ve learned now it’s worth the risk…” Larry stops, to which I interject with a question.
“So what you’re trying to tell me, is we basically watch over a haunted building?”
“No, haunted implies that there’s something hostile in it, not that the very structure itself is hostile.”
I blanked, comprehending what he was implying with that last sentence but still having a hard time accepting the idea of it. How can a building be hostile? Ghosts, demons, werewolves, cryptids, those make sense. They’re sometimes living, conscious creatures with instincts, desires, and emotions. But a hunk of bricks and concrete? How?
“The structure itself…” I comment.
“Have you ever heard of The Hungry House Hypothesis?”
“Most haven’t, and that’s because you’re not supposed to. Even I technically shouldn’t.”
“Then how do you?”
“I did a bit of snooping, stuck my nose in a few places where it shouldn’t have been. Almost got me into some hot water a couple of times, but I wiggled my way out of it. Point is, The Hungry House Hypothesis lays out a simple, but pretty wild idea. And that idea is that buildings, especially homes and or other structures meant to have people in them for extended periods of time, develop a bit of sentience, intelligence, whatever you wanna call it from those that inhabit them. Our human consciousness sort of rubs off on them in a certain way. Think of it like being on a boat in the middle of a lake, no matter how hard you try, you’re gonna leave with at least a little bit of extra moisture.”
“Uhhh.” I begin, before Larry cuts me off.
“I know I know, not the best analogy. But you get my point. Over time, buildings, especially houses, start to almost, reciprocate feelings of attachment toward those who dwell inside them. But, like with a lot of stuff in life, people move on, they go to different places and leave things behind, including their living spaces. Abandonment, would be one way to put it. And how do people usually feel when they’re abandoned? They’re hurt, betrayed, and resentful sometimes.
Buildings are built for one reason and one reason only, people. So when they’re stripped of that purpose, they become spiteful, like a person would. I know it sounds like I’m spewing nonsense, but this is the best way I could think to say it. Your house, your place of work, they don’t just shelter living things, they nurture them. Think less of a house and more of a womb.
The creaks in the floorboards you hear at night. The rattling of pipes, it’s the structure talking, communicating in its own weird way. You ever look around the house for something you lost and you could’ve sworn you had it in a specific spot but it’s gone?
That’s one way it likes to communicate, it wants you to search around, check out every crack and crevice and explore its inner workings. It’s like a bonding experience to it. It’s when the people that it holds lock up and leave for the night, does the structure get a bit restless, that’s why we have you on at nights. Watching and monitoring things. But as for the figure in the window that night you left, I’ll make sure to look into it.”
I couldn’t help but feel both unnerved and unsure. What he was saying, shockingly made sense after a bit of extra context. And I couldn’t think of any other logical explanation for what I was seeing. It sounded insane on the surface, but after everything I had seen, I wasn’t willing to just write it off on the spot.
“So, to sum it up, buildings are sentient?” I probe.
“I’m gonna assume you have some questions?”
“Definitely, I just need some time to think and wrap my head around it. I believe you, but believing isn’t the same as accepting.”
Minutes passed before our waiter returned to our table with the dishes we had ordered. We ate in silence for the rest of the time that we were there. It surely wouldn’t end up being the last time we spoke about the subject.
When my next shift came around, I was pretty much operating on an entirely different mindset, thinking of the work as more of a service rather than a duty, if that even makes sense. Now that I had a better understanding of exactly why I was doing what I was doing, it brought me an odd sense of comfort. One that would soon be snatched right from me.
There I was just a couple of nights later, sitting in my chair in the barricaded office and staring at the monitors, waiting for something to appear. I clutched my energy drink in hand, sipping it as I continued to observe.
And for a while, nothing had changed. It was a relatively uneventful night. All until I caught a glimpse of an abnormality on camera one, A.K.A the lobby of the building. There was a piece of framed artwork that was on the right wall perpendicular to the front door, artwork that was a photorealistic portrait of Abraham Lincoln looking directly at the hypothetical viewer.
It was a standard picture, just good old Abe staring right at you with a blank expression. However, what I quickly noticed made me a little uneasy. I zoomed in, just to confirm what I was seeing.
Abe’s eyes were completely blacked out, the iris, pupil, and all. As if someone had carefully colored them in with a Sharpie. It was an abnormality I hadn’t come across at that point in time, so I documented exactly what I saw, a sinking feeling creeping its way into my stomach as my pen glided along the paper.
It just sat there, staring out into the lobby with those two empty voids for eyes. No other time in this job had I felt like I was being watched more intensely than in those moments. It wasn’t quite terrifying I’d say, just more on the cusp of disturbing.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the phenomena of feeling like you’re in danger, despite there being no immediate threat to actually harm you. It was kind of like that, except that after everything Larry had told me, that feeling of being watched made more sense.
While I was on this job, I was always being watched, in every room, at every angle, by the very structure surrounding me. Did the barricaded door this room sat behind even have any chance of keeping me safe if this building decided to… Retaliate? I guess would be the best way to put it.
Combing through the monitors again, another abnormality reared its ugly head on camera three, the main hallway on the second floor. My floor. As for what was wrong, well, the door to the entry-level offices had suddenly appeared to be open halfway, prompting me to flip to a fresh page in my notebook.
But as I sat there, letting my ink stain the paper, a sudden, and moderately pitched hissing sound emerged from the left side of the room, like hot air traveling through thin pipes.
I snap my head around, staring right at the wall it was coming from like I expected something to burst right through. Of course that didn’t happen, instead the hissing simply persisted, and shifted back between that, and more of a low creaking noise. Almost comparable to someone climbing up loose wooden stairs.
I put forth an effort to tune it out, but it continued on, nagging me as I attempted to ignore it. Eventually, I looked back over at camera one. And to my shock, I see that the painting of black-eyed Lincoln had completely disappeared from its spot on the wall. I immediately rotated the camera around, trying to spot where it might’ve moved, or have been moved to.
But what I saw, only confirmed what I had already assumed, the painting was nowhere to be found, nowhere in that room anyway.
I check the hallway camera as fast as possible and didn’t see anything that wasn’t already out of the ordinary. This prompted me to move onto camera four and receive the same result. Cameras five and six were also no different.
But I froze in my seat once a familiar sound suddenly surged its way into the room, one that drowned out the hissing coming from the wall. It was a continuous, repetitive, high-pitched beeping. I peer over at camera seven’s monitor, and in the upper right-hand corner, I see two words, in big, white, bold letters.
My eyes stay fixated on it for a few seconds, as if I was in a trance of some sort. But I snapped out of it and looked over toward the middle of the monitor. Right where the back door to the building was located in the frame.
My grip on my pen involuntarily tightened as I saw the portrait sitting there, propped right against the door. Lifelessly gazing out into the black abyss that was the back of the building. I got right to work writing down times, the position changes, and every detail I could include.
At that point, only an hour of my shift remained. Larry had told me that no matter what happens around the time I have to clock out, I should leave and not worry about what I see after I’m off the clock. I should be mindful when leaving the building, but once off the premises, I should pretend like this place doesn’t exist. Not something you usually hear from a boss, but I’ll take it.
The hissing and creaking in the wall began to fade after about twenty minutes. But I’d hardly say that I was at a point where I could relax. But things had somewhat settled down as far as abnormalities go. Nothing else had happened over the course of the last half hour or so.
I let myself chew on my thoughts as I scanned through the camera feeds, absent-mindedly staring at the monitors. My main focus at that moment was trying to process everything, my situation, my decisions that led me to that point, and what Larry and I had discussed.
I sipped on the last bit of my energy drink, trying to get a last little shot of caffeine before my duty ended. I didn’t really plan on going to bed when I got home like I usually did, I didn’t really see myself getting a lot of sleep tonight, or today, should I say.
Luckily I had the coming day off, which would allow me to run some errands, maybe go out with some friends and feel a bit more normal. Of course, I couldn’t discuss any details of my occupation while doing the latter. Whenever work was brought up, I left it at “just a government job.” And if they probed further? Well, I wasn’t above telling whoever it was I simply filed and faxed paperwork.
As the clock ticked and my time came, I gathered my things, packed up. And stepped outside into the hallway to lock the office door. Out came my key from my pocket, jangling and clashing together as I inserted them into the door’s lock mechanism.
And the moment I did, that same feeling of being watched crept its way back to me. Except it felt more potent this time around, I’m not exactly sure how to put it into words, I don’t even know if I can. But I’ll take a crack at it nonetheless.
Last time, it felt like something was in the hallway, staring me down, sizing me up, watching my every move. I pictured it more as a tangible, singular threat, something evil lurking around the corner.
This time, however, it felt like I was being watched by the hallway itself. Like every inch of the wall, ceiling, and floor was keeping constant visual tabs on me. You wanna know the craziest part about it? I didn’t know which one I hated more.
The scattered shadows and darkness of the hall seemingly stared right back at me as I looked at it. Despite the fact, it had no eyes, no face, and no mouth. I could almost sense it was attempting to speak to me, as absurd as it may sound.
What was only a matter of several seconds passing by, felt like minutes as I stared down the corridor, eventually, I ended up shaking my head to snap myself out of it. Like someone who had just spaced out at work.
I finished locking up with haste in my step before once again making the decision to take the stairs instead of the elevator. One that I would keep making for the foreseeable future after that first time.
I got to my car, this time taking care to not look at the building, I figured I’d be better off not accidentally seeing something that I wasn’t prepared for. Plus, my shift was over, so horrors beyond human comprehension were no longer my problem.
I made it home, which I now felt just a bit differently about after my recent revelation. But I took good care of my house and appreciated its existence. So I was fine… Right?
Probably not something I should linger on for too long, just for the sake of my own sanity. I’m going to end things here, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to update again, but it’ll come at some point.
It’s been Olivia, signing off.
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