I work as a security officer downtown in a big city. Most of my job is making sure people aren’t camped out in building entryways or in the parking garages that I patrol. Mostly I just drive around and stop if I need to remove someone from the property, but a few of my buildings require me to go inside and clear each floor, stairwell, and the parking garage (if they have one, most don’t) to make sure nobody snuck inside and set up shop for the night. Inside the buildings I have to patrol, we have little scan tags that we have to scan with our phones so our company can track that we’re actually doing our jobs, but it takes forever to scan them and most of them are broken anyways.
The people I deal with are mostly homeless, but I do get a few out-of-towners just trying to find a place to sleep in their cars for a while before getting back on the road. Regardless of who it is, I try to be polite and give directions to the nearest shelter, non-secure block that is “homeless friendly”, or a safe place that you can legally park and sleep for the night. Most people are pretty understanding and will get up and go without needing to be told twice, but some…some are a little more reluctant, and occasionally violent. The most common line I get after nicely asking someone to vacate the premises is “you’re not a cop” which is always a fun one, but sometimes they switch it up to “I’ll kill you” or “I’m going to wear your skin”.
It’s a boring job, with some excitement thrown in occasionally, but it pays the bills and it’s really not that bad most nights. I do get a little creeped out in a few of my buildings though. Two in particular. I just can’t shake that feeling that I’m being watched, or like something or someone dangerous is lurking just around the next corner or just on the next floor. It also doesn’t help that one of the creepy underground parking garages has zero cell signal, which is super great and not terrifying to think about at all.
Monday night, something happened in that parking garage that’s got my stomach in knots and is keeping me up at night. I haven’t told anyone, and I don’t think anyone close to me would actually believe me if I told them. Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved telling stories, particularly scary stories. I made (and still make) up stories to scare the crap out of my siblings, friends, fiancé, even my parents. Stories about ghosts in the house, strange noises and knocking, and whatever else my overactive imagination conjures up. And I know if I told them, it’d be brushed off, I know it would.
My last rounds on Monday at about 3AM I was finishing up my 5-floor tour of one of the creepy old buildings, and like usual there was nothing incredibly eventful, just a few lights out and a few doors that should be locked but weren’t. I made my way down to the east stairs to the first floor of the parking garage so I could scan the tag and get the hell out of there. The tag on this floor is located outside the P1 east stairway door, so I popped out, scanned the tag with only a little difficulty, and was about to go back through the door to head down to P2 when I heard what sounded like heavy, quick footsteps coming down the ramp. I paused and the noises faded, so I chalked it up to my mind playing tricks on me. Besides, the sliding door you need to open to enter the garage is closed and the only way to get it open is to hold the fob near the sensor. And the only people that have those are employees, not to mention they’d be driving, not walking.
I went back through the doors and continued down the steps to my next floor. As I made it to the bottom, I grabbed the handle to the door that would lead me back into the garage and heard the telltale sound of a door opening above me. I ripped open the door, opting not to scan the tag on this floor, and headed straight for the west stairwell. I find I’m far less concerned with what my boss may think about a missing scan point when I’m possibly about to die. I found myself thinking maybe the homeless man who wanted to wear my skin Is about to make good on his weird threat.
I made it down to P2 and kept going. There was only one floor between me and my car, and I was dead set on making it to the car before whoever was in here with me could catch up. The sound of the stairwell door opening from below me stopped me in my tracks. That’s impossible, I thought. He was just on P1, there’s no way he had time to make it all the way down stairs and make it to the stairwell door on the opposite side of the parking garage before I could even make it down one flight of stairs, there’s just no way. Now that it was clear whoever or whatever this was not going to let me make it to my car, I tore up the stairs. I could hear laughing, like 500 nails on 100 chalkboards, pierce through the air my entire way up to the lobby. I could see shadows below me bouncing off the walls. I yanked my phone out of my pocket, tripping over myself as I exited the stairwell into the lobby. I stared at the screen and willed for the X over the service bars to disappear. They finally did as I made my way out of the front doors.
I called 911, my voice shaking as I relayed my story to the operator. When the Police showed up, I let them in the building but refused to enter myself until they’d been through every floor. When the officers met me back on the street after about 20 minutes, they told me whoever it was must be gone now, but whoever was there had managed to get in my patrol car and toss my stuff around. They said it was probably just some kids trying to scare me. I still made one of the officers walk me down to my car before they left. When I got in, I locked my doors and sped to the exit ramp.
The sliding door seemed to take an extra-long time opening, but I finally made it out. I am required to wait outside the door in my car until the sliding door shuts all the way, so nobody gets in behind me, so I put the car in park and waited. Just as the door was about a third of the way shut, a man appeared in my rearview mirror, right behind the door. I screamed so loud I could see the windows shaking. He was unkempt and dirty and immediately filled me with a sense of dread. He just stood there smiling a little too wide while the door closed, lowering his head with the door to keep me in his line of sight. Just before the door was closed too far for me to see his face anymore, I saw him give a little wave and mouth the words “next time”.