From the basement, I take the stairs to the ground floor. When I enter, there’s a creature in the corner. It’s putrid breath reaches me; I tremor in horrifying terror as it exhales death and rot into my face. It pierces me with large red eyes, then scuttles off along the ceiling – gone as if it never existed. It's freezing cold, and there is no power to the building, after a small fire on the third floor damaged the wiring. So far tonight, I’ve checked through the basement where all the staff lockers, changing rooms and showers are located, plus the staff cafeteria and a temporary office for security, since the control room is out of order. There is an indoor swimming pool, sauna and a gym for tenants only. It’s rather fancy, considering it’s one of the oldest apartment buildings in town. Some cosmetic work has been done to bring it into the 21st century. Basement completed; I write on my check list.
Something touches my hand and I yelp in fright, but try to ignore it – it was probably a spider? The ground floor hosts a lavish restaurant, a cocktail bar and a gift shop, though it has no apartments. I check these are secure, and tick them off my list. Something is following me; I can hear it – the noises it makes sends needle sharp prickles upon my body. I point the flashlight behind me, but there is nothing there, though I hear loud footsteps pounding the floor. It rushes me, then backs off.
I reach the stairwell to ascend to the first floor, I push through the door as something grabs at my arm, making me drop the flashlight. What I catch in the light is something God awful terrifying. It’s a swirling black mass of distorted faces. My mind cannot fully comprehend what I am seeing. Scooping my flashlight up, then pushing through the door to the staircase, the door slamming behind me gives me a scare. I stand against the door, trying to catch my breath, because I feel a panic attack coming on.
I entered this building at sunset. For a minute I’m lost in the memory of the golds and magentas, spreading their fingers across the sky. It was breath-taking. Now I have no idea what time it is, I’ve accidentally left my cellphone at home. Somehow, all the clocks I’ve come across have been showing different times. Weird. Funnily enough, my watch has stopped at 6 pm, when I entered this hell hole of a building. It seems to be eating up time. But it must be well after midnight, judging by the darkness which smothers the windows; a cold empty chill has set in.
I’m here because of the murders that occurred three nights ago. Eight tenants were murdered in cold blood. The police have cordoned off the areas where the shootings took place. The security firm I work for got the contract to secure the premises, and to ensure explorers and thrill seekers stay off the property. Over the past three nights, I’ve had to run off a couple of paranormal investigation teams, who begged me and offered me money to let them in for a tour. The boss would have my head on a stick if I let them in.
The apartments have been left abandoned, and the tenants are not permitted back until the investigation is through. The police emptied the place when they got the emergency call, about a gunman walking through the building shooting people with a rifle. My brother Colten is a cop and when he found out I was coming here to do security detail, he called me immediately.
“Hey Gabe, how’s it going?”
“Good thanks. What’s up?” I asked.
“I’m wondering if you want to catch up in the weekend, have a game of basketball? I’ll book us in if you want?”
“Sounds good bro. How’s work?”
“The murders at the Waterfront Apartments are keeping me up at night, I tell you,” he exhales and I can tell he is shaking his head, I know my twin brother very well.
“Are you any closer to catching the bastard who did it?”
“No, we’ve not caught him yet, but we know who he is. It’s been a difficult investigation, with all the camera footage destroyed, you know, after he shot the security guards.”
Colten goes quiet.
“Yes, poor old Bobby Ray, he didn’t deserve that. And Luke McGee has a baby on the way,” I said.
“Please don’t do it bro. I heard you were replacing them. I know you probably feel obligated, you and Bob were good friends. But it is dangerous there, I have heard all sorts of things about the place from other cops…really scary stuff, even some of the squad refuse to enter it now.”
“Colten, you know I don’t believe in that crap, ghosts and demons, goblins and ghouls, it’s utter rubbish.”
“Just be careful. Sometimes murderers go back to the location of the crime, for the thrill and to marvel in the destruction they caused, he is a sick bastard whoever he is. Look I’ve got to go, but I’ll give you a call tomorrow. I’ll see you at the BB court at 10 am, on Saturday. Okay?”
“See you then bro, you don’t need to call to check up on me. I can look after myself, always have,” this makes us both laugh.
Chills afflict me as I recall the conversation, and goose pimples give me the jitters. I shake a vision away – me lying there dead in a pool of my own blood. I am jolted out of my reverie, when I glance something big and black down the staircase. I’m in the stairwell, trying to make it to the first floor. I run up the stairs, because I can feel something behind me, it’s all in my imagination, I reassure myself. Places like this give me the creeps, not from the dead, who I don’t believe in, no, it’s the living I fear. I walk the corridor and check all the rooms on this floor are secure. I check this off my list.
The murders began on the third floor, then it carried on to the fourth floor, and then the basement. There are eight floors all up. It’s a huge place to secure, and I wish there was someone else with me – this is the first place I’ve done security alone. I think of Bob and how he was murdered when he went to investigate the commotion on the third floor. He was shot dead, then the murderer used Bob’s keys to enter the control room, where he found Luke and ended his life. He destroyed the camera screens and the footage, obviously so he couldn’t be recognised.
I get a jolt when I hear the door at the far end of the corridor slam shut.
“Hello, is there someone here? This place is off limits, you aren’t allowed in here,” I say trembling.
No one responds. The hallway is in complete darkness, except for my flashlight. It’s a standard police issued torch that can be used to hammer someone in the head, I suppose. If it comes to that, I’ll save my own life in whatever way possible. I hear a female scream, it assaults my ears, making me drop the flashlight again. I’m all thumbs tonight. This place is freaking me out, and I seem to be chasing shadows. In the corners the blackness is deep and whole, it seems to go on forever. Like I already said to Colten, I don’t believe in ghosts, never have, and tonight is no exception.
The scream pierces the air again, but now it is closer, almost right next to me. A cold shiver feathers down my back. There is no way anyone could get in here; I checked all the entry and exit points as soon as I’d arrived. Though now the camera screens have been destroyed, there is no way for me to confirm this. I direct my light up and down the corridor as I make my way to the staircase to go up to the second floor. Something touches my shoulder and I jump out of my skin in fear. Turning abruptly, I search with my light, there is no one there. This place is playing tricks with my mind.
The second floor has a heaviness that leaves me momentarily dizzy, and I feel eyes watching me, but I can’t explain it. I’ve never been a nervous person, but tonight something inside me is telling me to run and hide. Although the foreboding feeling is strong, I manage to check all the rooms are secured, I tick them off my list. There are guest bathrooms, I check these off too.
I make it out onto the landing, and start climbing towards the third floor. On the previous night’s I’ve been here, I couldn’t get to that floor as the police forensic team were still investigating. As I reach the door to the floor, a cold blast of freezing air hits me with full force in my face. I’m suddenly tired in my bones, finding it hard to lift my feet. I feel a heavy pressure on my chest, but I keep going…hoping to get the fuck out of here. I don’t want to admit it to myself, I am terrified.
I scan the area with my flashlight. There is evidence that the police and the forensics team have been here. Crime scene tape has cordoned off some of the corridor, and a couple of apartments. A sound somewhere behind me has me turning. I hear screams. My teeth are chattering, not from the cold. Something isn’t right. I hear gunshots coming from somewhere inside the building, but that doesn’t make any sense, perhaps it came from outside? Regardless, I pull my taser out of my utility belt, only to be used under special circumstances, and this is one of those moments. It’s the only thing I have to protect myself. Unaware of where the noises, gunshots and screams are coming from, I walk deeper into the building. I step over the yellow and black tape, as bursts of gunfire shatter the silence. I know in my bones this isn’t right, the shots blast all around me, though they hit nothing. A huge black shadow darts past, setting my nerves on end. I carry on, I need to get this done.
I check all the apartment doors on this floor and they are locked up and secure. I check the guest bathrooms, they are empty. It is getting challenging to ignore all the noises coming from every direction. I need normal noise, I start humming…That doesn’t last long, I hear a loud crashing sound. With my flashlight I search the hallway, only to find all the apartment doors are wide open...
“What the fuck?” I yell, confused.
The murderer could still be here, like Colten warned me. A vision of the madman bursts inside my head. Him killing his girlfriend, and then his Mother – only an evil prick can do something like that. Him shooting two kids and their parents on the fourth floor. I hear giggling behind me, I’m stopped dead in my tracks when I spot two small shadows dark past in my peripheral. It chills me to the core. I walk faster along the corridor, and come to the spot where Bobby was killed, there is still blood dried to the carpet. Something shoves me hard, and I fall to my knees. Perhaps I just tripped on something?
There shouldn’t be anyone here but me. My adrenalin is spiking through the roof. More gunshots has me off the ground, bolting up the stairs to the fourth floor. It is dark and eerie, bitterly cold. As the door shuts me in, I feel hands all over my body, but there is no one there! I cry: petrified. I move away from the door and make my way towards the second crime scene. I’m really not supposed to be on this floor, but I need to check I am actually alone. The pressure is back on my chest. I feel hands around my throat, so I can’t scream for help, though there is no one to yell for anyway. I’m trying to catch my breath, when it tightens its hold around my neck. My scream reverberates down the corridor when I am released. I fall to the floor and I don’t have the strength to get up.
Pure fear grips me hard. I thought I could do this, but it is getting nearly impossible to maintain myself. I get off the floor and pull myself together. I’m trying to remember what happened, but it seems my memory has stopped working. Suddenly, I am in full throttle terror. I can’t remember arriving here. Something inside my head feels broken. I remember arriving in my Ute, I can visualise the last thing I saw before I entered: the sunset. As I catch my breath I try to remember…but it’s useless, I can’t even remember what day it is. I don’t know what is going on, but I feel like a different person, like I’m walking around in someone else’s skin.
Something scuttles towards me; I can hear its claws scratching on the walls. Pointing my light towards the sound, I see it – it’s horrid and ghastly. It’s clinging to the ceiling upside down, it’s arms are so long, they nearly touch me. As quick as humanly possible, I hoof it down the corridor to the other side of the floor. There are doors I should check, but I am too terrified to continue. In a fear so total, I make my way to the staircase. I want out. I quit: I’m done. I have never been so scared in my life. What I just saw confirms, I should not be here, especially alone. Suddenly I am livered at Bobby for getting himself killed. Now I have to deal with this shit.
A memory implodes inside my mind, something Bobby had said the last time we spoke, that was a few weeks ago now. I’ve barely slept since I started working here. I’ve been carrying around this ominous feeling and it’s been messing with my head. I can’t remember much of anything, and although my memory is unreliable at the moment, I do recall what Bobby had said about this building. It was his two-year anniversary working here, and I said I was happy for him. But then he said something bizarre, that it’s not been too good recently. He was seeing a counsellor about the things that had been happening in his life, and his job here. His life has been falling apart. I tried to remind him, he has a loving wife, Nelly, and three great children. He said, the job is getting to him and that he is sure he is being haunted. That he sees things in the corner of his eye. Shadows seem to be following him everywhere. Not just at work, but they seem to have followed him home. I laughed at him, saying he obviously needs a holiday.
When I make it back to the office, I am shaking and sweating all over, cold chills attack me. I stuff my gear into my backpack, getting ready to leave. Three knocks on the office door has me freaking out. But it could be someone coming to replace me from the graveyard shift? Or the police could be here to resume their investigation? When I open the office door, there is a man standing there with a rifle pointed at me. I gasp in a frightened breath, waiting in quiet torment for him to pull the trigger. When it happens I am not surprised. I look at him, deep into his eyes, they are soulless and black. He smiles as the trigger releases and the pain hits me an instant later…
I come too and the man has vanished. I check myself over, to be sure – I appear to be okay. I get up, heading for the front doors. I try to get out, but the key I used to get in, is no longer working. What the hell is going on? I start running when I hear more gunshots from the floors above. I run to the other exits, but I can’t escape. I look back and see the hole in my stomach as I lay in a pool of blood. I am distraught. After everything I’ve been going through, one bullet ended my life. Now I will never see my brother Colten again. I should have listened to him. He has always been the logical one out of the both of us. Our parents will be gutted, I don’t think they will be able to handle this.
I’m lost and all alone. Dying is not what I had expected. No cracking open of Heaven, the earth still spins. Lost in the memory of what happened, a vision nudges me as I am taken under. I see what actually happened…In my mind it plays out like a horror movie, over and over repeating itself, until I grasp the reality. I am dead. Finally I stop running. There is a tunnel and I decide to follow the light…I see Bobby Ray, he tells me to go back, I ask back where? And I wake in the hospital attached to monitors. Relief floods me, Colten is holding my hand, crying, and our parents are sitting either side of me. I am alive, I survived the graveyard shift from hell.