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This is a question The Dark

17,000 writes: Everything bad happens in the dark. Tell us your stories of noises and bumps in the night, power cuts, blindfolds and cinema fumbling.

(, Thu 23 Jul 2009, 15:49)
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Its dark on the third floor
During my stint as a night guard, during the early nineties, prior to any serious career commitments. I was placed in a huge, drab government building in West Sussex, working with another guard. We would take turns to do a walkabout of the building every couple of hours.

I was nineteen, and despite my youth, the dark really didn’t scare me, in fact I found it quite tranquil as long as I didn’t think too much about it.

After a few weeks, I got placed with a guard on the opposite shift, a fifty year old Jamaican who in his own way had a good sense of humour. It was he who told me about the presence on the third floor. In summary form , an old civil servant whom had worked there all her life and way past retirement age croaked shortly after taking forced leave due to ill health, they said it was her job that was keeping her alive, she worked on the third floor and according to my West Indian co-worker, now and then her entity, ghost, presence, what ever you want to call it does a circuit of the floor, “mark my words boi you’ll either see her or feel her one night”.

It kind of reminds me of the film “Return of the living dead” when the senior co-worker Frank is setting the story of the previous film to the new junior worker “Freddy”, you could have heard a pin drop as he relayed this story.

I on the other hand was having none of it, I had been dished out several myths in my early days of the job, typical “Newbie-windups” most of them, from the “boyfriends head on the stick” number to the “straight-up- its-true” events about a guard working at an animal research facility in Cambridgeshire, getting spooked by something one night and being found the next morning cowering in the coke machine after he had ripped the innards out with his bare bleeding hands and climbed inside. I’d heard it all, and while I was respectful to him I dismissed his story and tagged him as a windup merchant.

I was a bit surprised at how far he was prepared to enforce the joke however, especially when he announced “I’ll get ready to do ma rounds “ and wandered to the locker room only to return wearing a parker zipped right up “Kenny-style” and sporting a big fat crucifix round his neck and grasping rosemary beads in his mitt. Each to their own I thought, I guess you pick up some oddities about going about your everyday job.

Fast forward a few weeks and I had pretty much forgotten the story, too many other things occupying this young mind, like girlfriends, adding more useless plastic to the exterior of my car, avoiding parents, the like.

I honestly can’t remember if it was days or weeks after this enlightening episode that I found myself heading to work to start my shift. A typical night was stretched ahead for me and my co-worker, he settling down to watch our “unofficial TV” we brought in, while myself sauntered to the top floor in order to start my turn in patrolling and work my way down.

Commercial buildings go through a strange transition once they are empty of their occupants and night arrives, the bustling office atmosphere during the day is a stark contrast to the eerie, vacant, stillness that can unsettle you and even play tricks with you if you ponder too long on the feeling.

I mentioned “oddities” earlier, and mine was removing my boots and wandering around the carpeted floors in socks, mainly for two reasons, my boots rubbed like [email protected]*k and two, for some reason it was slightly comforting to be able to move around in near silence.

I remember I was mulling this observance over in my mind, why does it comfort me to do this? Am I turning into my coworker? And my bosses would most likely raise an eyebrow if they ever knew. That’s when I stopped dead in my tracks, I had been walking down a very long corridor with just the faint muted glow of the safety lights overhead and periodically divided by heavy fire doors at various intersections.

Something wasn’t right…I couldn’t see anything just gloom ahead and behind me, I’d not heard anything either, it was really more of something I had felt, I shifted position slightly, strained my ears and paused, then I really felt it.. a breath of icy cold air, but refined though, as if someone was up close and blowing a straw against my face, almost intimate in a way, I swore I could even hear the hiss too. I kind of lunged backwards, my logic second guessing my senses.
As my mind somersaulted into what was happening, somewhere the realisation that I was on the third floor came right to the forefront. My entire body flushed over in a sudden wave of hot scared adrenaline, and I felt my ticker go from idle to double-thump pounding almost instantly. In my last effort at remaining composed I defiantly grabbed the fire door handle in front of me to continue my passage and choosing forced dismissive ignorance when I heard a sudden echoing bang far behind me down the corridor.

There’s no way anyone can be in this building, cant be my co-worker as thanks to the parka he sounds like a crisp packet if he moves a muscle. Its something else, I didn’t even turn around to look, I barrelled down the intersection, palming all the light-switches on as I passed them. I felt like I was flying up the corridor, the overhead lights rocking in my vision as they blinked to life in a trail behind me.

When I got to the security office on the ground floor I kind of gave the game away that something was wrong by slip-skating down the last few steps while grappling the stair-rail. My co-worker was utterly useless for the rest of the night, we doubled up on patrols , his firm decision, Christ he even timed his “take-a-piss” trips to coincide with mine. We also left all the main lights on till dawn. The place must have looked like its neighbouring Gatwick Airport as far as the “at home” signs went.

After much more myth-building by my peers, you sort of take it in your stride and hope you just won’t experience it again. Buts it’s always in the back of your mind.

Months later, me and another guard deduced from our investigations, with the help of the buildings janitor that their was a pencil sized hole in the fat aluminium air conditioning tubing above the corridor.

The bang was caused by the other fire door pressing on its frame by the vacuum I had caused while pulling open the fire door at the other end. I smile about it now, but at the time, I was scared and in a way was good fun.
My mind had played tricks on me, on a few apparently, but it was the dark that made it all happen.

So so sorry for length, just wanted to get it off me chest, and this place was a really creepy drab drum too….Hell why not..The Paymaster General’s office, Russell way, Crawley. I admit I got spooked.
(, Thu 30 Jul 2009, 2:34, 3 replies)
Holding rosemary beads?
Pfft.

Sage advice. About thyme too.
(, Thu 30 Jul 2009, 8:33, closed)
Aww...I missed that bit
But your reply made me office LOL
(, Thu 30 Jul 2009, 9:56, closed)
Good story!
Good work on solving the mystery too. I once had a door slam behind me in an empty building like that, and for the same reason. It was a hell of a fright. And that was in the middle of the day with no ghost stories flickering through my mind, too.
(, Thu 30 Jul 2009, 11:47, closed)

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