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The Night Shift

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Hello all, you can call me Lucky. I'm a night auditor at a small hotel where I live. Basically what this means is that I'm paid pretty good money to sit at a desk for nine hours a night to be at the guests and potential guests beck and call, while also billing out rooms and doing other various forms of  paperwork. What this translates to in reality, is me sitting on my ass for about seven to eight of those hours doing roughly nothing (unless we get busy, or people need to get picked up from the airport and whatnot), my only actual work being my audit that I have to run between two and three A.M.

As you can no doubt imagine, this can get incredibly boring. Luckily for me, my boss is incredibly lenient about what I'm allowed to do during my shift, provided it doesn't negatively affect my job performance or cause any type of disturbance to the guests/result in any form of complaints. I typically bring my laptop, graphics tablet, and a portable gaming system or two and split my attention between whatever flavor of the moment I'm into at the time.

Now this is a pretty small hotel, (Only four floors, about twenty rooms on each, with a central elevator and a pair of stairwells at each end of the single hallway that makes up each floor) and is typically pretty quiet, but in the years I've been here, I've seen some interesting and crazy things. Sadly I can't really discuss any of that here since I'm still employed here and I don't want to risk putting that in jeopardy by recounting some of my more "normal" encounters. I do want to relay to you one particularly abnormal situation that occurred quite recently though.

When I first took this job a few of the employees talked of the building's supposed haunted nature, namely from the fact that there is an old historical graveyard about fifty yards up a hill nearby and it's spirits supposedly coming by and causing general havoc at times.

Things in the pool room being moved when the door was locked, valves controlling various machines being turned when no one in their right mind would dare mess with them for fear of facing the wrath of our maintenance man, and even the more atypical noises and other things that go "bump" in the night. Now I won't lie, the place itself is pretty boring and dull, but being a fan of horror films/games and having experienced a number that have had hotels as central locations ("The Shining" and "Silent Hill" being at the top of my list) has caused my hackels to be raised a few times in the past.

When it gets really foggy when I'm on my way to work, I'm always instantly reminded of the fog of "Silent Hill" and it makes me shiver a bit. That being said, in my handful of years here, I had never experienced any of the claimed supernatural stuff others had laid claim to bearing witness to (the aforementioned maintenance man being one making such claims.)  I think everyone craves, to some degree, that particular moment of reassurance in an afterlife of some sort or at least there being more to our world that what we can regularly see, that a supernatural encounter might give. I'm a skeptic by nature, but my natural curiosity has always kept the spark of belief alive in me and I had always wanted to at least experience something. I ended up getting my wish.

A while back we had a flood up on the second floor thanks to the fire suppression system being activated in that particular wing. Luckily, due to a couple of the housekeeper's quick thinking, the damage was relegated to that one side of the building, but it was still pretty bad.

The carpet, beds and furniture were all pretty much unable to be salvaged and everything in the housekeeping closet at the end of the hall had to be carted off. So that side of the building needed to be gutted essentially and it was closed off with the fire door while things dried out and repairs were started. Carpet was ripped up, anything deemed beyond saving was tossed out and then the waiting began for replacement items.

Now, one of my nightly jobs involves delivering receipts to all the guests checking out the following morning, which are just slipped under the doors. Though I knew about the flood, no one had informed me that they had already closed off that end of the building, so when I came down to the second floor to deliver receipts for the rooms that were in the good part of the building things immediately seemed off when I saw myself approaching the end of the floor far too quickly. The hallway seemed entirely too short and it was really messing with my senses. It was then that I noticed that it was the closed fire door I was seeing, and not the door of the housekeeping closet at the end of the floor.

I felt rather silly for being shaken by that, especially since the elevator was right near that door, bigger than shit and should have served as a clue that I was only half way down the hall. You get used to routine though, and when you know what to expect, sometimes your mind fills in the details for you even when things are off. Even though I knew what was going on, I still felt a little disoriented every time I looked at the closed fire door from the end of the "good" hallway.

The disorientation lessened with each night until I had pretty much become used to the sight of the truncated hall and was ambling down the stairs on my final night of my work week and popped through the door, delivered my papers and pushed on through the fire door.

The bare floor was still a little sticky in spots from left over residue from the carpet that was pulled up and it seemed to be a bit more tacky than normal, most likely cos it was a bit warmer that day than the last few. Still, it was annoying and I kept getting distracted, watching my feet more than the hall in front of me. Counting down to the last room I leaned left to push on the stairwell door to head down to the first floor only to bump up against a wall that shouldn't have been there.

Looking up I saw that there was indeed no door where the entrance to the stairwell should have been. It was the right room, but the only other door out of the hallway was a new fire door where the housekeeping closet should have been. I stood there dumbfounded for a moment trying to figure out what had happened. Did I come down the wrong stairwell? No, if that were the case I wouldn't be staring at the last room in this wing, it'd be the first one. Looking back down the hallway where I had come from I noticed that the fire door that I now don't remember hearing close behind me, was nowhere to be found and the hall beyond where it should have been was also in the same state of disrepair as the damaged section I was standing in.

I wasn't even sure what to think as I surveyed my surroundings. This couldn't actually be happening. It had to be a dream. I felt even more certain it had to be a dream because I wasn't actually freaking out about what was happening, instead I turned back to face this new door at the end of the hallway and tentatively pushed it open.

The door opened almost soundlessly into the burned out husk of what looked to have once been a similar hallway, but not in this hotel, the layout was all wrong. All the rooms were on one side of the hall, not alternating left and right like ours. It looked like there were at least two other floors above this one from what I could make out through some of the larger damaged areas in the walls and ceiling. The ceiling!

I should have been able to at least see some daylight or moonlight filter through a hole somewhere in the ruined facade, but none was present. Black ash seemed to continually rain down from the void-like depths of the area where the ceilings should be, softly falling on the remains of the floor only to seemingly melt into it like snow. My curiosity was getting the better of me, so I slipped my flashlight out of it's holster and pushed onward. Wood splintered and cracked from my weight bearing down on the fire weakened beams, but it felt sturdy enough so I carefully made my way into some of the rooms that seemed safe enough to explore. 

My exploration started off unremarkably as I found little more than what you might expect when picking through the ruins of a burned out building; charred skeletons of what was once furniture or walls, partially or completely consumed mattresses, their bare springs broken and twisted, never again to aid someone's journey into sleep.

It didn't seem there were any people in the building when it caught fire as I'd yet to come across the remains of any bodies or even luggage. In fact, there didn't seem to be anything indicating this building had been occupied at all. From what I could see at least. Even more anxious now, I trudged on, the hallway seeming to get darker as I went, my flashlight becoming unable to penetrate the deepest depths of the darkness around me. 

As I weaved my way from room to room via the hallway or usable doorways between adjoining rooms I stumbled over an uneven part of the flooring and crashed down into the ground, my hand and arm splitting the charred wood underneath and plunging into the room below. It felt strangely cold as I withdrew my arm painfully. Deep scratches etched into my skin from the jagged edges of the blackened flooring. Varying lengths of splinters pierced my flesh in a haphazard pattern from fingertips to my elbow. It hurt like hell, but the adrenaline was at least holding some of that pain at bay.

A cold wetness ran down my arm from a sizable gash just under the bend of my arm, my blood dripping onto the tattered remains of the main hallway, seemingly being swallowed up by the scorched remains below my feet. Tearing off the sleeve of my shirt as best I could, I made a makeshift bandage to staunch the bleeding and knelt down to look at the hole I had just made. The beam of my light seemed to stretch on forever, giving an eerie feeling of an endless void below me, but then caught the edge of what looked like a dresser, and then a doorway. I breathed a sigh of relief as I started to stand, but felt a chill run down my spine as I was certain I saw something flitter past the doorway below. It was similar to those fleeting "glimpses" of things you see out of the corner of your eye every now and then, except I was certain I was looking directly at the doorway, not out of my periphery.

I was also hit with a wave of fear and curiosity when I noticed that it appeared my blood had indeed disappeared into the floor. I could find no trace of it anywhere in the area where it should have dripped. My fingers finding nothing but dry incinerated wood where there should have, at the very least, been a small droplet from my not insignificant cut. I had to know more so I wiped some of the still wet blood off my arm and smeared a line into the wood, my flashlight quickly catching it as it glistened briefly before going dull and being absorbed into the wood with nary a trace of it remaining. Not sure if it was a result of the wood being so dry and brittle, I decided to try and track down as intact a section of wall I could find.

Being more careful as I pressed on, I eventually came to one room that was considerably less damaged than the others. How this happened I'm not certain, as it's surrounded by destruction, but seemed to have sustained little damage to the interior. The flames claiming only the frames of the doorways, part of a bureau and a chair. The bed and bedside table and most all of the walls were untouched. A faint abstract floral pattern of varying shades of yellows and oranges adorned the wallpaper, most of it ending in an ugly burn mark, but still a strangely comforting sight amidst all this destruction.

I quickly did the same thing part of an untouched section of the wall, a deep red smear traced over the wallpaper as my finger glided across it's roughly texture surface. I shone my flashlight on the stain and shuddered slightly as the blood dulled, seemingly drying quickly and disappearing into the wallpaper, again without a trace. I tried the mattress, the table and even one of the remaining metal handles on the bureau, all coming away with the same results. The blood was swallowed up by whatever it touched. Amidst all this, that was something I found most disturbing. It gave my surroundings a much more sinister and almost malevolent feel.

I decided I needed to get out, my curiosity was sated and this was quickly feeling even more dangerous than before. As I stopped to reflect on my path through the husks of the hallway I realized I had no idea how long I had actually been exploring. I don't wear a watch, relying purely on my cellphone for everything. I checked it to see what time it said, almost dreading what I might find. The time display just showed four short dashes, like a clock that needed to be set on a VCR or something. No signal as expected either.It was time to leave, that's what I took the clock readout to mean, and it helped spur me into moving back in the direction I had come from, even if I couldn't see where I had entered this, for lack of a better word, place.

Even though I had been moving in only one direction, as I made my way back toward what I assumed was the portal I took to get here, everything was unfamiliar. I never came across the hole I punctured in the floor, and trying to backtrack back to the untouched room was likewise impossible. The building seemed to swallow it up much like it did my blood.

I wandered through room after burnt out room, each looking just as unfamiliar as the last, time being lost to me as I felt myself get more and more tired. As I sat on the ground to rest for a bit, I looked down the hall and saw a small section of a wall that seemed untouched by the fire. I made my toward it, thankful to be feeling like I was moving in the right direction. That feeling was lost immediately when I entered the room though. This wasn't the same room I had found earlier. This one was decorated more like a young girls room. White and pink wallpaper, a slightly singed dollhouse, and a fully intact bed in a corner of the room.

That bed was my oasis in the desert. I was so tired and just needed a brief rest. Then I could find my way out of this place. I gingerly sat on the edge of the bed, afraid it wouldn't support my weight due to it's size and unknown age. The frame creaked a bit, but stayed sturdy as I laid back and closed my eyes, sleep taking me almost immediately.

The nightmare that I lived while I laid in that bed still sticks with me, just as much as what came after it. I saw a young girl running frantically through a long hallway, dodging into and out of rooms off to the side. That same floral patterned wallpaper adorning the walls as what I found in the other mostly intact room. I could hear something squealing and hissing from behind her, only able to get a glimpse of a tall, lanky shadow flickering behind her as she turned to see how close her pursuer was.

I could hear it's footsteps growing louder behind her as she dodges into another room, one with an adjoining room that she's able to briefly lose her assailant in as she returns to the hallway. Frantically she makes her way to what I assume to be her bedroom, the room I myself sought refuge in. Scurrying under her bed, she instead decides to take shelter in a box in the corner of her closet. She closes the closet doors and wiggles into the box, shutting it as best she can, her tiny hands clasping over her mouth to keep herself from screaming as she waits and hopes for the thing to pass by.

It doesn't. It's footsteps grow louder. I can hear it breathing, sniffing the air as it searches for her. It moves first to the bed and peers under it, a loud screech emanating from it's mouth when it doesn't find her. It then stands, it's lanky form shuddering and quickly blinking almost as if it were coming and going from existence itself. It starts ambling awkwardly toward the closet and throwing open the doors, hangers upon hangers of clothing and dresses swaying in the ensuing breeze. It rummages around in the closet violently, strips of fabric being tossed around the room as the rapidly flashing form guts the closet.

All that remains is the box. One of the creatures thin, bony hands reaches out to open the box, the other raised up high, fingertips pursed together in a grotesquely organic looking spike. The flap of the box is torn off, the girl screams out in terror and the other hand comes down with a dull squelching sound, the scream cut off immediately as I wake with a start, sweat soaking the mattress. Looking over at the closet standing agape and empty, a dark box sitting inside I slowly creep toward it.

Inside is the dried out husk of the young girl, strands of hair still dangling from her scalp, her almost immaculate dress draped over her form looking mockingly alive in juxtaposition to her corpse. In the top of her head, a ragged five edged hole in her skull where that monsters fingers viciously ended her life.

I'd had enough. I had to get out of here. I made my way to the doorway of the room and started back in the direction I was headed, not knowing if it even mattered what direction I went. I wanted some proof if possible of where I was though, so I grabbed my phone dangling from the lanyard around my neck and started up the video app and did my best to grab footage of my surroundings as I took off down the dilapidated halls.

I ran as fast as I dared, knowing I could hit a weak spot in the floor at and moment and plummet into an even more unknown corridor below. As the floor creaked and groaned beneath me, I could swear I heard a faint "wooosh" behind me, closing in on me then fading back. I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard an agonizingly loud splintering of wood from further behind me. Then I heard that awful squeal from the dream. I let the phone drop back down on the lanyard and broke out into a sprint. I ran faster than before, caution be damned! I'd die anyway if this thing caught me, so I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. Wood cracked and splintered under me, a foot smashing through a soft spot at one point, drawing out with a similar appearance to my arm.

I kept on running, the squealing and snorting of the creature getting louder as it continued to gain on me. Up in the distance I saw another untouched area of the building, and what looked to be a fully intact door! I quickly slipped inside and slammed the door shut putting my weight against it as I sat on the ground and waited as I tried to catch my breath, knowing that the door would either hold and be a refuge for a while, or the creature would break through and catch me.

The screeching of the best echoed in the small room as the door started to rattle, a loud "thud" emanating from the other side of the door as it tried to get in and get to me. I slumped further to the floor laughing uncontrollably. I'd at least temporarily kept it's food from it. I buried my face in my knees as I sat there laughing.

I hadn't realized that the rattling had stopped until I heard a soft "ding" sound and looked up. I was in a very familiar elevator, and the doors slowly opened into the light of the lobby in the hotel that I worked at.

I tentatively stepped out and made my way back behind the desk. The clock read 2:28 A.M. I had only been gone about twenty minutes from when I left to do my audit. I quickly did my best to clean myself up and then went into the server room to look at the security tapes. Unfortunately this was before we had cameras on all the floors, but the footage showed me get into the elevator to head up to the fourth floor at about 2:10, and ten minutes later slowly stepping back out into the lobby.

I checked my phone to find the video camera app still running. I stopped the recording and waited for it to save then went to play it back. There wasn't a lot to make out since it was swinging all over the place as it dangled from my neck, bouncing off my chest as I ran but every now and then it would bounce, then twist and the camera would catch a glimpse of a flickering shadow behind me, with long lanky arms, fingertips squeezed together in that same spike like form, preparing to strike. I screen-cap a few of the clearer images and started doing some research on what I saw, but that was pretty much a dead end.

I talked to my uncle who is a detective with the local police force and asked him if there were any fires similar to what I had seen that lead to the discovery of a young girl. He looked into it, but couldn't find anything even close to that in the city or even the county. I wasn't sure where to go from here investigation wise, but I knew that no matter what I had to stay at the hotel. I escaped from that thing for a reason. Maybe I could get back there and find out what was really going on. Maybe I'd encounter others spirited away to that horrible place, and maybe, just maybe I could save them.

Its been about six months since that happened. I haven't told anyone what went on that night, and nothing of note has happened since then. Though I keep seeing a larger than normal shadow flickering just outside my field of vision every now and then. There's nothing there when I look of course, just like always, but I swear I can hear that squealing every now and then coming from the elevator shaft when I head up to deliver my receipts.

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