I work as a late-night security guard for a company. The company has been around for roughly fifteen years and holds a plot of land in the city outskirts housing it’s administrative offices and factory. My duty includes multiple sweeps of the perimeter to spot any suspicious activities (often times non-existent), making sure the gates and doors in the office areas are properly locked if no one is working overtime that night, and sitting in my security guard booth near the entrance for long hours.
When I first took the job, I had all kinds of imaginations about late night horror legends, expecting a thousand scares in one single shift. You can really tell if someone’s a rookie just by counting the number of imaginations one stocks in the brain. But I soon found out that life is pretty uneventful here. There is always one or two factory lines operating throughout the night with workers making their honest earnings. When orders kick in, all five lines would be up and running 24/7 until the production requirements are digested. None of these affected my job much, however, as all it differs to me are nodding goodbye to a larger group of people in the morning instead of a small bunch.
But last night I saw something I cannot quite explain.
It was a slow night, with but one line in the factory up and working. The autumn chill had started to put on a hit of true winter coldness. There was a considerable distance between my booth and the factory, so there was literally no human activity nearby except my own. I was finishing a sweep around the office area and was heading back to the front gate where my booth was located, intending to give the parking lot a final check before seeking shelter in the tiny booth.
The outdoor parking lot was right next to the front gate. During the day, lots of employees would drive to work and park their vehicles here before heading into either the factory or the administrative building. Right now there were only a couple of cars. They belonged to the factory workers doing late night shift like me. Most of the workers took the company shuttle to and from work, but there were always some people who valued independent mobility a bit higher than others.
During the night, the parking lot was completely deserted nine out of ten because, unless there was something that required the workers to leave early, there really wasn’t any reason for them to be out here at this time of the night. But that night when I strolled to the parking lot, a figure was there.
It was a male. Medium build, jeans and boots, with both of his hands buried deep in the hoodie pockets and his face hidden in the shadow of the hood. He wasn’t doing anything, just standing there as if he was waiting for a friend.
As a security guard charged to ensure orders around the plot, my first reaction was that he must be one of the factory workers. Probably taking a sick leave.
‘Hey!’ I greeted him as I approached, ‘Everything alright?’
He mumbled something, but I was too far away to make out the words.
‘Excuse me,’ I said as I approached ‘What did you just said?’
‘Mind giving me a ride?’
Though I still couldn’t quite see the man’s face at that point, I could tell from his voice that he was relatively young. He seemed like one of those younger workers we had here.
‘Sorry, mate. I’ve got work to do. Not planning to leave anytime soon,’ I sniffled in the chilling evening air. ‘You don’t have a car?’
‘Mind giving me a ride?’ He asked again, ignoring my question.
At this point I was starting to feel uneasy. I could not pinpoint the exact reason, but there was something in the way he talked that stopped me from getting closer. I shined my flashlight at the man’s face. It was a rude thing to do, I know, but I felt that I had to get a good look at his face. Perhaps to confirm something. But for what, I could not say.
The man did not react to the light that should have been piercing into his eyes. I thought I could see beard stubs showing from under the hood. In all, he seemed really unremarkable. Any day, I could walk down the streets in town, and bump my shoulders against one or two of this kind of guys without even remembering.
‘Mind giving me a ride?’ He started to approach me.
‘No,’ I flatly refused. ‘You can get back to the factory and wait for the shuttle. I have work to do.’ Even if he really had some reason that required him to leave early, there was no way I was going to give him a ride. All things left aside, he was creeping me out.
The man mumbled and wandered off. I frowned at him, then turned around and walked toward my booth. I know it sounds really unprofessional, but it was only then that it came to me that I should’ve asked him to identify himself.
I looked back at him with words already half-formed on my lips. But he was not there.
Rather than roaming the parking lot like I expected him to be doing, he was, in fact, standing on one of the tall lamps used to light up the area. On the lamp! I had only turned away for a few seconds, so how on earth did he manage to get up there in such a short time?
But there he was, standing straight like a pencil up on top of the lamp looking down at me. My head literally went blank for a moment, trying to process through what I had just seen. Before I reacted, he jumped off the lamp in one single leap.
I almost had a heart attack when he did this. But any remote concern I might have had for him vanished when he started to skip forward in an overly merry way. Like a character in The Sound of Music. All the time grinning at my direction. I could not see his whole face because of the shadow of the hood but had no difficulty making out the glistening teeth and pulled-back lips.
I did the only sensible thing I could: I ran straight into my booth and locked it behind me. Never had I crossed the distance so fast in my life. At that moment I had absolutely no proof that locking myself in the booth would guarantee my safety, but I did it anyway, like a scared animal seeking shelter in its den.
The young man, which I was certain now could not possibly human, stopped right outside the window. He did not broke in, as I had feared, only stared at me through the thin glass. He was no longer grinning from ear to ear but the downward lip tips produced an equally frightening sight with the unatural sadness. He leaned in, put his hooded forehead against the window glass, and rolled his whole head slightly from side to side. He did that for a while, all in total silence, then stepped back and slowly walked backwards into the darkness.
I didn’t know how long did I sit there, immobilised by shock and fear, until the real workers started to trickle out from the factory. Some of them got into their cars and drove off, while the others chatted in the parking lot, waiting for the shuttle bus that was always three minutes late.
I really don’t know what was going on last night. My next shift will start in two days but I’m worried that asking strange questions around will give my new boss a bad impression.