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Allen Clarke Allen Clarke
Recommendations: 18

Dreamworld Shift

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She had a friend.

I work the midnite shift at The Old Factory just on the outskirts of town.I usually arrive at approximately quarter to 12. I say, hi, and goodbye to Harry at the front door. He wisecracks,``I tot I heard some noises about an hour ago.``Funny things is, he wasn`t smiling when he said it.I figure Harry `s just getting old and his hearing isn`t what it used to be.He told me once he came across a big rat on his foot patrol in the basement. He said it was about the size of a beaver.Me, I always carry a big fuckin, knife on me. Just in case. You know what I mean?
   Some things a guy can`t take a stab at though. like those noises a guy hears when he knows fuckin well there`s no one in the building.Ya know what I`m saying, amigo?

Some guys were telling me that this old building used to be an ancient nunnery.I`m sure it.s gotta be at least three hundred frickin years old.Some guys try to discount the noises as the creaking of the pipes.A couple of times I thought I heard the distant sound of ...a baby crying?``Another time I seen a roll of toilet paper come bouncing down the stairs of the 15th floor.I`m what you might call a hard individual. So, I just shrugged it off as a coincidental incident. But, then again, I never did believe in Santa claus;cause the old prick never did bring me what I wanted anyway.

I stand at the door and watch Harry drive away.I don`t know how the old geezer just keeps on keeping on.He reminds me of one of those wind-up mechanical toys.At his age, he should be looking to arrange his last resting place.Òne day,Harry tells me,``Legends never die, they just end up in a nursing home just like everyone else.``

I could never quite get used to this place. I don`t know, there`s just something about this building that just gives me the nagging notion to quit this job. But, here I am again tonight.Outside the night is beautiful with a hundred million stars for company.A quarter moon travels across the southern sky like a bright yellow sailing banana.

I`m a little ways from town, maybe a quarter mile, just far enough to make this place somewhat quiet. That is, until the sounds start up.I usually bring reading material because the graveyard shift can be awful long.I don`t know who it was that coined that term, but I`m quite certain it might have been a security guard.I try to read a bit to pass the time, but I find, that most nights,it`s quite impossible.After a while, the building begins to take on a life of its`own...quite literally.

There is a dream-like quality which slowly transpires over the course of the first couple of hours of this shift.This usually begins its`occurence at the point in time when a man starts to nod off. I`m talking about that curious phase in time when you`re not altogether sure if you are awake or dozing off.That`s why I try to remember that this is only a job.

I have a confession to make, even though I`m not Catholic.I do sometimes fall asleep on the job.A couple of times, I`ve been suddenly jarred awake by something i can`t quite define.It usually assumes the wispy form of a shadowy figure, but I can never be sure it`s there, just the momentary suggestion, a flicker of movement somewhere in the corner of my eye.

Once I`m fully awake,I try to shrug it off, but, somehow I try to deny it actually happened, but, inevitably;I can`t deny it had ever occured.Night after night, the incidences of unknown origin keep coming at me.Sometimes I want to scream at...what??...nothing???I should do that sometime, maybe it will somehow excorcise these visitations in the night.The only thing that stops me is the thought that there still might be a late-night worker in the building.

Nightime is the only time i get introspective. it seems like during the daylight hours, I tend to lose myself in self-absorption. That`s when a man can start to go off the deep end.I figure it has something to do with what`s rooted in our deep, primordial past. Who knows maybe my early ancestor was a hairy caveman by the name of Ogg, who just felt the need to provide a little bit of security, along with some surrveilance for the rest of the tribe.

I pause on the 13th floor for a snack around 1:00 am.Did i say 13th floor? Everybody  else calls it the 14th, but they can`t fool me.I wasn`t born yesterday, you know.I get a particular chill sometimes on this floor. It`s a feeling like no other.Even the basement doesn`t do me like this floor does.They tell me that this here floor is where they kept the cadavers before the embalming.I figure this was where the coroner did his thing.The basement was used as the morgue.

The older security guards used to see things around this place.Yeah, odd things. Things left strangely out of place was the too often report of the day.These guys were the old toughs, guys that came out of the war against Hitler.I guess they weren`t too keen on reporting things that would make them sound like old ladies.After all, nothing much more could faze a guy than to stare a bayonet in the face at close quarters.These were the boys of D-Day.

Those were the natural fears though, the things that a man can grasp, cause it`s right there in front of you. You can feel it. It`s physical. You can reach out and touch it! But this was something else altogether! Sometimes, they would come across the oddest sights.Black-robed nuns that you saw, as if they were floating down the dimmly lit halls. You`d yell at them,but they wouldn`t answer you! These were common,incidental,quirky things that they would witness in their nightwatches.

One night about a week ago, my relief guard comes in and tells me something he seen around 3 in the a:m.
``I saw you coming down the stairs, shutting off the lights as you were coming down to ground level.I know you`re going to think I`m a nut, but, I saw the lights turning on behind you as you closed the door behind you on every floor.``
Of course, I didn`t see it myself, but what would posssess a man to lie about something like that?Besides, I knew he`d be using his rosaries all night until the break of dawn.After awhile, a guy just started to deny what he seen and heard anyway. It`s that age old thing about denial.I used to think that was a river in Egypt, but now I know that even an old skeptic like your`s truly can be bit by that bug too.

Round about 2:00 a:m, things starts to act up. Now, I know I`m no Superman, and I can`t be everywhere at once, but most times I do the best I can.I suppose that`s not saying much, but I do have my limits. Sooner or later, my patience runs out.I suppose I could call in the parrish priest if I could just pry him away from his bottle of,``home-remedy.``Of course, he claims that it is meant, purely for medicinal purposes.I have never witnessed a man -of-the- cloth shit hees drawers, but I suppose it wouldn`t be the first time.

Sometimes I wonder if these entities or spectres, or whatever you want to call them are like trapped souls wanting to leave but somehow can`t. It`an interesting concept, and I`ve certainly heard wierder explanations about,`` things that go bump in the night.``Ah, what do I know, I`m just a working stiff trying to make nine-dollars and seventy-five cents an hour.

Speaking of crap in the drawers, sometimes, I pick up on odd odors.No, it`s not my arm-pits.I use that 24-hour protection stuff.My hygeine is on this side of immaculate.I`d venture to say that even my crap don`t stink.haw, haw,haw..and I just love to bullshit! It keeps me somewhat sane.Certain floors have certain smells about them, apart from the Mr. Clean antiseptic.

What were those words of that long-dead English poet?Correct me if I misquote, but does it go something like..``Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered weak and weary..``And round about midnight, the wailing begins.It sounds like a mother in search of her lost infant, wandering the halls in the hopes of being re-united with her baby.

My theory is( for what it`s worth)that she, or it, was a mother, in ages past, who was forced, by her parents, to deal with her accident of passion.Now, she wanders these halls with the eternal hope that she might, eventually, hold close to her heart, in death, what she was denied in this life.It brings a tear to this rugged, old heart to consider the possibility that such a tragedy might have transpired within these cold, dank walls, so many years ago.

What the...there`s that scent again.It`s like lilacs in the spring, a tonic for the world-weary soul.This usually wafts in on the 7th floor.A calm, a peaceful feeling comes over me.I look up and I see the stained glass arched mirrors of the Chapel.Could it be that a benevolent priest might have ministered there with a heart a-flame with compassion for the sick and the dying.Might have he held their hand as they prepared to cross over into that care-free, wispy world from where no one returns.The rude alarm on my Seiko pulls me back out of my musings. It is now 3:00 am...the witching hour!

I feel the handle of my Bowie knife and it gives me a certain measure of assurance. In my vest pocket, I have my rosaries and a small flask of holy water. The bottle is labelled ,``Made in Japan``. I figure if it`s flesh and blood, the Bowie will neutralize it.If, on the other hand, it turns out to be something out of this world, then, I`m banking on my rosaries, followed by a generous splash from the Lady of Lourdes.For extra measure, I bought a couple of cloves of garlic. If nothing else, I can have it with my roast beef sandwhich.

Slowly the air around me starts to grow strangely frosty.I can actually see the puffs of my bated breath.Then, I hear it! It sounds like someone or something running down the stairs! Closer and yet closer it comes thundering down the stairs and it`s as though I can feel the tangible weight of it`s body!!I turn and I run as fast as these arthritic legs can carry me.

Spurred on by the present horror of solitude, I give full flight like Icarus plunging from the dizzying heights. My heart pounds in my head like the Four Apocalyptic Horsemen!!The adrenaline makes me feel more alive than I`ve felt for years.Madly,I crash and dash downward to freedom, desperately toward the exit door.I feel it`s hot breath on the nape of my neck. I scream...Mamma!, but...she`s ..not ...there!!!

I feel it`s claws slashing in a frenzied effort to draw blood!!I see it now!!!the door...the door..the blessed door of deliverance. I barely have time time to turn the knob! And then I`m free with the door closing behind me!!Then...I awake..with my wife clawing my back, reviving me to consciousness.It seemed so real..too real.

And so my story ends,for now.Who knows, maybe I`ll call in later and tell them I won`t be in tonight, or for every night,for the next 20 years.

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