This week’s prompt:
Working late, a monster, A good night’s sleep
“Have you heard about the ghost?” Sheila asked as she packed up her desk to prepare for leaving for the week.
Evan tried hard not to roll his eyes. He was afraid she would see it in the reflection of his monitor. This was the third time someone had tried to warn him about some supposed ghost haunting the office at night.
“It only comes out when there is just one person here.” She sounded so sincere he wondered if she actually believed.
“No worries, Sheila,” he said with as much false sincerity as he could muster. And that was a lot. “I’m not afraid of ghosts.”
“I dunno,” she said. “The last person who saw it had a heart attack and never came back. Said it was the most awful thing he ever saw.”
“You mean Dave?” Evan asked. “Dave had been looking for a reason to retire for a while. The heart attack was the last straw. He probably dreamed it.”
“Suit yourself, Evan,” Sheild said, and her tone said she really believed what she was saying. “If you are dead at your desk when we come back Monday, I will have to say I told you so.”
“My corpse will be all ears,” he said, and gave her a winning smile.
“I won’t be here too late. Have a nice weekend and I will see you Monday.”
“I hope so,” Sheila said as she grabbed her purse and hurried toward the elevator.
Evan let the mask fall and finally rolled his eyes. If Sheila had any idea who she was talking to, she would be worried for the damn ghost rather than Evan. But she did not know, of course. They never did.
A couple hours passed by and Evan got up to get a snack from the vending machine. The lights in the office had turned themselves out after the other employees left, but they came on in stages as he walked. The movement of the light made strange shadows appear and disappear.
There were their stupid ghosts. Evan grabbed the bag of chips and another cup of coffee and headed back to his desk.
The lights were still on, but instead of staying on they turned themselves out as he approached until his computer monitors were the only things left illuminated. Clearly something was wrong with the lighting system. He would need to email the building supervisor. The sensors probably needed replaced.
Evan sat down, taking a sip of his coffee and opening the bag of corn chips. As always, the actual number of chips in the bag was a disappointment. He was going to have to stop on his way home.
He wiggled his mouse and his screen spring back to life. In the dark window in front of him, he could see his own pale face reflected back in the eerie blue. Maybe he was the ghost? The thought made him laugh a little. How stupid were his coworkers?
He was back to work in seconds, deep in thought and trying to finish quickly so he could get home. There was a new show on Netflix he wanted to start. His keys clicked as he typed rapidly, entering data and numbers in each box and calculation the amounts needed. He was almost done when a light blinked on somewhere behind him. The slightly warmer light of the distant light made his ghost image look even more pale somehow. The light turned out, but another came on at the same time. This one was closer to him.
Evan stopped what he was doing and pulled up his email. He was just going to have to report this now before he forgot. They really should have taken better care of this system. It can’t save the company money if lights are going to be turning on and off just willy-nilly.
Evan was halfway through the email when a new light came on, this one just outside the row of his cubicle. The others were now off. Had he heard something? Were his coworkers trying to scare him? Surely they would not waste the energy. He sat still and listened hard. Nothing but the normal pops and groans of an empty building. It was like the building was a living thing and once all the people were gone it was able to stretch and sigh, getting settled in for the night.
What a weird thought. Evan was not prone to fanciful thoughts. Maybe he was tired. He could finish this Monday morning before his boss got in. He closed the mail, letting it save as a draft, and started getting ready to leave. He was already standing, leaning over to close the program he was in and reaching for his jacket with the other hand when movement in the window caught his attention. Something moved, it looked like it had flitted back behind the cubicle wall just as he looked. So someone was here.
“Quit screwing around,” Evan complained. “Go play haunted office somewhere else or on someone else’s time.” He did not bother with his pleasant and charming “office voice”. He was too tired to mess with it.
No one responded, but the light outside his aisle shut off just as he stood up to look. Another light far across the floor came on, giving only a little of indirect light. Evan saw movement and looked closer. Someone was standing there. They looked like no more than a silhouette, but he was pretty sure he did not recognize them. It was almost certainly a woman. She was not even as tall as the cubicle walls. Her form was slight and indistinct. He looked at her for a moment, trying to decide if this was someone going too far with a prank or if he had been wrong to doubt poor simple-minded Sheila.
“Come on then,” Evan said dryly. “Show me what you got.” He did not see her move, but everything went dark for about two heartbeats, even his computer monitors. When the meager light returned, she was inches from his face. Her pale skin was marked with ugly lines, like corrupted blood vessels. Her hair was lank and sparse. She was slightly translucent and glowing ever so faintly.
“Not a prank then,” Evan declared, looking into the black empty eyes. She opened her mouth to reveal rotten black stumps of teeth, but stopped and froze as he held her gaze. Her expression faltered from evil incarnate here to break your mind and slipped toward an uncertain child in bad makeup.
“Go one then,” he told her. “What are you waiting for? Go on and scare me.” The eyes had no whites, they were black like a shark’s, but he could still see the doubt in them. She eyed him suspiciously. Something like a cross between a groan and a growl came from her.
“What ever your malfunction is,” Evan said in an icy tone. “I can assure you, you are not he biggest baddest monster here. So either scare me or get the hell out of my cubicle. I need to finish this work now.”
The ghost faltered, her form flickering like a bad projection for a second. Her rotten toothed mouth opened wide ad she let out a shriek that made Evan’s ears hurt before fading into nothing. The lights on the floor all came back on again. Not just the ones where he had walked to the break room.
Evan sat back down and reopened his file and pulled up the draft email.
Facilities Manager, Do have someone come check the occupancy sensors for the lights on the third floor at your earliest convenience. They are not functioning properly after 7pm. Evan James - Accounts Lead
Now that that was out of the way, it was time to finish his work and go home. He loved those serial killer documentaries. They always got it all wrong.