About a month ago, there was a big car accident near my job. It was a two car collision, but they only found the body of the driver of one of the cars. I think I see the other driver every day on my way into the office.
I work at a local bank. It’s not one of those big name banks, it’s actually a family owned and operated bank. I’m currently the fifth generation of Bank Managers here. I know the bank inside and out. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that I was going to work at the bank. The name of the bank isn’t important, but if you did some internet searching, you would probably find out the bank I’m talking about.
After the accident, I started to see a man standing outside the bank every morning when I arrived, and every evening when I left. I know I wasn’t going crazy, because my employees saw him as well. He never said anything, and he never seemed to move. He would be standing there in the morning, and he would seem to disappear after the bank was opened, and we would see him again when we closed up for the day.
There was nothing spectacular about the man. He looked to be in his early fifties. His height and weight were average, and he always wore a suit. The only thing that made him stand out was the hat he wore. He almost looked like a cowboy in it, but cowboys, or any sort of rancher isn’t a common sight in our town.
So, a few days ago, I got into work a little late. It was something that had been happening more and more often, since my wife and I had our first child. It is difficult to get out of the house and into work on time.
The bank opened at eight am, and I got there at around eight-fifteen. Usually there are a few customers in the bank, stopping in before the work day. That day, I saw that there was an older man sitting with one of my employees at her desk. She waved me over, which is uncommon. Usually all my employees can handle anything by themselves. So, I quickly got settled in and came over to see what was the matter.
My heart stopped. It was the man we had all been seeing outside the bank every day since the accident. There was something about the man that put me on edge. Physically, he seemed normal enough, but his eyes seemed to be missing something. I can’t quite explain it, because it’s not anything I had ever thought of before, and nothing I hoped I’d ever experience after, but it seemed like his eyes had no soul behind them. Immediately I felt like I was talking to an animated mannequin.
I tried to hide my shock, but I could see in my employees eyes that she had the same feeling I did. I extended my hand to the gentleman, and he seemed to look at it for a while before shaking it. I was made even more nervous – what kind of grown man doesn’t know how to shake a hand?
I cleared my throat, “What can I help you with?”
His voice was like nothing I’ve ever expected to come out of his mouth. I’ve heard similar voices, but in movies or cartoons. I couldn’t believe the voice I was hearing was coming out of a man. It almost seemed like it was a few people talking at once, but most were muffled. The result was an almost gargling sound. It was difficult to make out at first, but as he spoke, it was almost hypnotic.
My employee took this opportunity to excuse herself, something I envied. I didn’t want to be here either.
His response, in his chilling voice was, “I am interested in one of your safety deposit boxes.”
This was routine enough. “Sure, that’s not a problem. They come in six different sizes. You can rent them out for..."
I went to get some paperwork in one of the desk’s drawers, but the man stopped me. “I think you misunderstand me. I don’t want to rent a box. I require one of the used boxes.”
My heart stopped. Normally I wouldn’t feel afraid of this, as there’s no way he could just access a box. They’re downstairs, and there’s a very secure door to get into the vault where we keep them. However, his weird, grating, multi-voice never changed pitch. He said this like it was a matter-of-fact. As if he wanted some sugar in his coffee.
“I’m sorry, sir, but you would need the owner’s permission. I cannot allow you..” I was cut off.
“The owner would never allow you, me, or anyone, in the box. He’ll never show his face, and the box remains in your vault, collecting dust. Allow,” at this time, the man seemed to stutter, “me to take it off your hands.” I could have sworn he almost said, ‘Allow US to take it off your hands,' but he corrected himself.
He didn’t have to say anymore. I knew the box he was talking about. There was a mysterious box in the vault. My father, and my grandfather, both said they had no idea who owned the box. The checks came in every year, and the box was rented out without fail. But, it seems as though it’s been rented out for as long as the bank existed, at least as far back as any of my family was able to remember, and that was going back to the early 1900’s. We have always assumed it was some family heirloom or something in there.
I was made more uneasy by this, and I asked the man to leave. He hesitated, but eventually he got up. I politely thanked him for his interest, but told him we would not be able to help him. His last words were “I’ll get the contents of that box one way or another. It will be easier on you if you just gave it to us”. I noticed the use of the word ‘us’ rather than ‘me.’
Since that day, I haven’t seen the man anymore. But at home, I have had the feeling that I’m being watched. My wife feels it too. It might just be that we both have the ‘new parent jitters’, but I didn’t think so.
This morning, when we woke up, and checked on our son, we saw him in his crib, smiling up at us, but there was an envelope on a nearby dresser. The letter said:
“The box in question is not yours to give, or to hold. Do not assume you have any right over the box only because you manage the bank. I will be keeping a close eye on you and your family. If anything happens, I will kill your son. If you call the police, I will kill your son.”
I usually think I’m in control of everything, but I can’t concentrate on anything. My employees see a difference in me, and I can’t keep it a secret any longer. I want to think I could keep my family safe, but the way I felt in the bank with that man keeps coming back to me. He seemed dangerous in a way I have never experienced, and he was able to get into my house, past our security, past our dogs, without us even knowing. I don’t know I could protect them as well as I hope I could.
Everyday I go into work, I think about finding the key to the box in question, and opening it up to see what is happening. I think I might just do that this week.