|sent from: London, UK. destination: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK|
Another late night.
The building’s AC has switched off, and the night guard has made his last round. The open office around me falls into darkness, and from it comes the mechanical murmurings of a floor of semi-passive computers. The air starts to stale, I need to wrap up.
Across the floor, the lift makes echoey noises like an awakened beast.
passing my floor..
Who could that be? I hear it start again.
It stops, with a ding. My tired eyes focus on the door. Hello? I say. The doors do not answer, remain closed. I let out an unconsciously held breath.
A yell from the alleyway. Bursts of screaming and inner torment. The ritual of the half-crazed druggie who hangs about. Still, it’s hard to focus. My desktop image flickers and inverts, turning positive to negative. A simple trick, but one that takes intent, and knowledge that I am here. I call the systems support line, no answer.
In my grandfather’s stone house there’s a room with no windows and an old crib. Witches raise their monstrous babies in this room, and snatch people as they pass the always open door at the top of the stairs. I quicken my step when I walk past it, no matter how old. I can hear them talking. I don’t like the dark.
I think someone’s messing with me – I text my wife.
Come home soon – she replies, half asleep.
I go to the window. No sign of the crazed man, but his yell echoes off the walls. There’s a shadow of something, standing still. My bike, my freedom, is out there. The cries stop. If I get out now I stand a chance of making the last train home. The dark breathes at my back as I gather my bag. I hold my card to the door unlock pad. It flashes red, and red again. One the third try – click – the door gives a little, and I descend the stairs. Outside, no sign of life. I get to my bike, search for the lock keys.
They’re on my desk, without them I have no chance for a quick exit.
– go back inside for the keys, face the dark again, and make for the last train?
– Brace the city streets on foot, go for the Tube and take my chances?
I RETURN TO THE OFFICE:
Damn. I don’t want to go back. The empty office embraces my return. I grab my keys, fumbling in my haste, and get to the door to leave. Red, red, red. Locked. Automatic after midnight, which was just passed thirty seconds earlier. I am stuck for the night. I open the doors to an empty office that I know has a couch, and hear the witches singing a soft lullabye, ready to welcome me.
I LEAVE ON FOOT:
I walk. No, I run, down the empty commercial street to the Tube station. Incredibly, I make the last train home. The carriage, warm and quiet, lulls me to sleep. When I awake, stiff necked and startled, I am alone in the dark. The train is in its siding, stopped for the night. I pry at the doors and walk on the tracks beside many trains, seeking a way out. I am at the last stop, twenty miles from home. I follow the tracks.