9 paź 2011

The Late Night Shift

Back when I was about 18 or 19, I used to work at a gas station. It was a little out-of-the-way spot, which consisted of two tiny rooms. The first room you came to when you enter was the "store" area. It was basically a room with enough space for a register area and a counter with some gum and candy bars on it, and a few coolers and drinks. It really was just a gas station, not one of the fancy ones you see now.

As you walked into the storage area, there was a little entree hall with chips and such on either side. You'd then take a left and enter the store. On the left in this room was the cash register and counter, and the back office was directly ahead.

The back office was just a primitive, square little room with cement walls and floor. The ceiling wasn't tiled like the rest of the store, so if you wanted to you stand on the desk in the office an look over the wall in the store area. All the walls in the back office are gray stones and the lighting is poor, and well, it was just a creepy room. Needless to say, I didn't go back there much.

So one day I was working - the night shift, like I have now. I've had several night shift jobs over the years. This specific night was cold and rainy. Very lonely out there, like most nights. I'd had a regular customer in the store, Jim - a fellow night shifter, just getting some coffee and talking before going off to work.

He put down the money for his coffee, told me to keep the change, and ran out into the rain. The door made a horrible ding noise as he opened it and was accompanied by a clap of thunder and the sound of rain hitting the pavement.

The way the store was set up, I couldn't see the window, so I turned towards the security monitor and watched Jim run across the lot to his truck underneath the roof at the gas pumps.

I laughed to myself in my cozy, dry, warm little den as he got into his car, started it, and pulled off into the night. As the truck pulled away, it revealed a man that must have been hidden behind it. He was just standing there, under the roof of the gas pumps, facing the direction of the camera. Jim's truck came back onto the camera in the background as he pulled around and turned back onto the road, leaving me behind with the strange man.

The man stood there for a long time while looking at the camera. At me. I couldn't really make out any features, as he was at the far ends of the pumps, just visible from between pumps 3/4 and 7/8. It was really unnerving just watching him there, standing still, not moving. After awhile I convinced myself he was just standing there to get out of the rain. And while I still found it odd, I turned back to my book I had currently been reading.

Probably about 20 minutes had passed, and I had nearly forgotten about the man, when a loud crack if thunder snapped me out of the book an back into reality. I nearly jumped out of my chair. I sighed, trying to calm myself, and turned my attention to the monitors.

My heart race picked back up.

The man was still out there, only much closer. Even more terrifying was that he was now standing in the rain. I could now tell that he was looking directly at the camera, almost as if he could see me watching him. He had a sinister smile on his face, that just barely peaked outbid the hood that covered most of his face. He had a a black jacket and jeans, and held something in his right hand. It glinted from the light of the store, which he only stood about 10 feet away from.

My throat began to swell up. I didn't like this at all. I had to lock the door. Even though the man hadn't done anything overly threatening, it was clear that something was wrong with him. Nobody normal stands in a thunder storm, glaring intently into a gas station security camera with a creepy smile on their face and a shiny metal object in their hand.

I slowly stepped around the counter and dropped down to the floor. I was scared and I didn't want this freak to see me. I crawled toward the entry hall and glanced around the corner. He would probably see me when I got to the door, so I'd have to be quick about locking it. I grabbed the keys from my pocket and started my crawl to the door.

When I got to the spot where I shouldve been able to see the man, I took it slowly. In by inch, so I couldn't be seen.

He wasn't there.

Every advancement revealed nothing in the lot. After I was sure I didn't see him, I reached up with the keys, quickly locked the door, and retreated back into the store. As I came back up on the register area, I looked at the monitor, and he was still there, in the same spot, looking directly at me. Only know he had his right hand out in front of him and I could clearly see the knife he had clutched in it. That wicked smile spread even further across his face, until it was just a gash in his face splitting open the darkness under his hood. It was like he knew I had now seen the knife.

Never had I experienced such terror, such a sense that I was about to die. This man knew I was in here, and he planned to murder me.

I grabbed my bookbag and backpedaled from behind the register, threw open the back office door, and slammed it shut behind me. I made sure the door was locked, tossed my bag on the desk, and sat down to use the phone. I dialed 911.

On my right were some more security monitors. These ones had various angles, including the inside of the store so the manager can see the employees and whatnot. The man was no where to be seen on these screens.

The 911 operator answered, and I bumbled my words, trying hurriedly to explain the situation. Eventually I got her to underhand that their was a knife weilding maniac on the property. She told me to remain calm and that the police were on their way.

She said she would stay on the line with me, as she could tell I was terrified, and that would've been fine. However, only second after she said it, there was a loud bang of thunder, followed by a low droning sound, like an engine turning off. Them, in the blink of an eye, all the light from the room blinked and the room shuddered from the thunder. The power went out.

I sat in silence, listening, hoping that the phone hadn't died. I waited for the operator to say something, afraid to speak myself and she if she was still there.

She wasn't.

As soon as the room descended into darkness, I felt like the man was everywhere. Right in front of me. Right next me. Every movement was nerve wracking, every sound amplified.

Slowly I slid under the desk, pulling my bag under with me. It held a pair of nunchucks, but little good they would do me in this darkness.

I sat there in silence forever, listening to the rain beat on the roof, and the gentle rumble of thunder as the storm moved away slowly. A deadly silence ensued, and I thought I could hear something, maybe footsteps.

shuffle shuffle

I could definitely hear something the sounded a lot like shuffling feet, but I couldn't tell where it was coming from. Maybe it was outside, or in the store. "Hey, maybe it's the cops!" I realized suddenly, and the thought lit me up like a christmas tree. Still I didn't move.

The shuffling had stopped now, but in it's wake now, the building let out a groan and then began to shudder. The lights surged back to life. Machines beeped and clicked in unison, as if surprised by suddenly being exposed to the light.

I was hesitant, but I slowly peeked me head out to look at the monitors. They were still off, so o crawled out and hit the on button. The monitor blinked light, and slowly began to reveal a black and white image.

The man was back.

He was inside the store.

In his right hand the knife was smeared with a dark liquid. It dripped onto the floor, melding into the black liquid already pooled at the mans feet. He started up at the camera with that same jagged smile, blood dripped from his lips. He was just on the other side of that thin wall.

I don't know what drove me to this next act. Probably just pure stupidity from my brain being fried from the horrors of that night. Briskly I climbed up atop the desk, with the intentions of looking over the wall and into the store on the other side. I wasn't talk enough, however, and so, with me feet, I kicked a couple books up against the wall and stood on the them. Before looking over, I glanced toward the monitor. Once again the man had disappeared. Along with any sign of the demented image the monitor had shown just seconds before. With a sigh, I turned my head to look over into the store.

There he was.

Directly in front of me, only a foot away.

I was face to face with his jagged, bloodstained smile. Only his face wasn't a face, and his smile wasn't smile. The mans throat grinned at me from across the room, gashed open from ear to ear. His head was lolled back, mostly covered by the hood. He must have been floating there, on the other side of the wall, because there was nothing for him to stand on. His throat gurgled and blood bubbled out of the gaping slice in his flesh. I stumbled backwards and the books slid out from underneath me. I fell from the desk, and again the room fell into darkness.

I woke up to an officer shining a light in my face. He called to me. My vision was going in and out at this time. I remembered what I had seen, that man with the blood stained smile. I jumped up, but my head spun and I fell back down almost immediately.

"Whoa easy son," I heard the officer say, "I don't need another one dying out here."

I laid my head back down and closed my eyes as the world spun away.

Several days later I was let out of the hospital, and went to the gas station to tell me boss that I wouldn't be back, unless he'd put me on during the day, that is. Before I left, I had to ask him what the cop meant when he said, "another one of you dying out here"

Turns out he knew exactly what the cop was talking about. Apparently a few years before I started working for him, there was another night shift kid who supposedly went a little crazy. He stared by saying that this kid saw man in the camera that wasn't really there. He eventually became depressed. In the end, he slit his own throat, right there in that little, lonely gas station.

Now every so often, on cold and rainy nights, I'll see that poor kids throat gurgling up blood in my mind, gasping for air... when I finally manage to snap out of it, I realize I'm in my kitchen, holding a knife.

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