For many years, I have worked security, and adherently nights. It's where all the fun is.
Anyway, this event took place, oh, never mind how long ago as it begins with a decade. On this particular night, was working a strike. And, being the holidays, we locked the location down, aside from the union folk out front.
Making my rounds, I walked the quiet plant, a big open space with a cinderblock partition between the halves and back, marking the area into thirds. With everything shut down, it looked to be a calmer night than the previous week.
Passing an outside door, the only one without a lock, I see a man's silhouette open the chain link gate and reach for the handle on the door. There is a tarp over the window, so cannot see the actual person, just the perfect impression off the copper light outside at the street (few feet away). There is no mistaking this man, nor the gate. Thing creaked something fierce. So, being as no one is to open that gate, or this door, I kick it out, intending to jam the man's fingers and wrist. In three months, have never seen anyone open that gate, or it's lock--until now!
The door swung open, exposing a locked gate, spider still in its web on the posts above the closed, untouched lock. No one was on the street, not by either side of the door.
I light up the walk, check for prints in the grass, still wet from the rains, puddles on the street. Nothing. No divots in the grass or mud. Was like what I saw never happened. I disagree.
Letting the occurrence slide, I walk back into and continue my round. All is quiet. I go back into the office and watch the transformers out front, where people had set up for the night. They always sat outside the front fences. Yes, they could cause damage, but tonight, holidays looming, we are all behaving ourselves. That is just the way I like it. So, I sit back to rest my boots, is 2/3 mile walk around the perimeter without any back tracking, and have a smoke. On my second or third cig, a man jumps up in the small window, yells while slamming his palms onto the glass. "Oh, SOB!" I am up, out the office door and kicking out the front door at the dock to catch him before I can fully exhale my smoke.
Every union protester turns around looking at me as if I had lost my mind (thanks, pally, appreciate it!). Heck, I know some of these men, and now they are quite sure of it! In a country setting, best friends live 25 miles apart, three towns are one backyard, yes, we know each other. I graduated HS with their kids and grandkids, even one or two of them. There was no aggression toward one another other than pride and upbringing. But, man, hated seeing those looks, as if I may be losing my mind. They huddled in coveralls attempting to eat tepid meals on paper plates where puddles hovered a mere two or three degrees above freezing now. All of our breaths testified to that.
Walking over tot he window, I get as close as I can without trailing off the cement and into the slush mud under the window. Between four and five feet off the ground, the only way to be seen in the window would be to get right up on it. And, under said window sat a foot and half deep mud patch. Had almost lost a boot to it the week before (don't ask). In the muddied grass and sopped grass around it, there stared a glorious lack of prints--of any sort. I swing my light back and forth again. There has to be SOMETHING. I sigh. ANYTHING. But there isn't. There never had been, other than my prints from the day before, skirting the patch getting to and from a side gate check.
One more pass of the light and I realize a minor, yet key detail of the man whom I had seen. He had no eyes--only black spaces. I click off my light and walk back inside. Nothing more to see, nor find that does not wish to be.
Watching the union boys sit outside, chatting and passing rank jokes, I crush out another cigarette. I take to another round. Passing the door I had seen the non man, non gate move, the copper light blazes untouched. Maybe ten feet from the door I hear a whistle in the machines to my left. The come here kind of whistle you use on a dog, or child. I don't like whistles. If I usher one, it's a signal to my partner when hand gestures are not an option. Searching for signs of life between the machines (most twenty feet tall), I find nothing moving. There is no one in the plant, yet the whistling persists. I break form my patrol and walk between the rows of machinery, intending to get a fix on the source. These machines are designed to mix dry ingredients to form rubber, some, I have no idea what solution goes into them to made the rubber playable. What I do know, and all I care to, is that these are machines I do not wish to place a body part in or close enough to to be snagged. Have seen the clean up of incidences where someone was not so lucky (incident was on the shift prior to mine--was graced with not having to write that report). I can see through many of these machines. I can see under them, between them, the tops and higher of each. I am the only person in this plant. But, man, I AM going to find this persistent whistle.
But, is not just a whistle that I begin to hear. I also now hear: she's over here. Psst, I got her. Hey, psst, Honey. Over here. All of this is in whispers. And, for those who know me, hahaha, yeah, am sure you can picture how I take it.
Five minutes in, I can tell it is coming out of some of the machines, the bellies of the beasts so to speak. Instead of sticking my head into these behemoths, built to crush and fold things into goo, I call my partner on the radio. He is posted on the building's rear, watching the diesel and propane tanks--and trying to stay on the resident skunk's good graces (hard telling there, boy). I asked for his position. He has not moved. When he asks why, I say no reason, just the building. This is a common reply if the situation involves things best not publicly admitted. Our chain of command also likes to fire anyone proclaiming ghosts exist. HaHa, I have toed this line with a number of companies. One of which had an account of their own people being bit on a site.
Partner radios back a 10-4. Two minutes later, I hear the back door to the plant, and his sauntering. It is good to have a partner like this--someone whose mere presence forces you to laugh so that you do not damage property out of aggravation. (Have NEVER damaged property...but have been aggravated enough to think about it...just not seriously) He asks what's going on, and I tell him. He laughs me crazy and heads off with an "ok-ay!"
I mumble and go back to my patrol, but the way I had come, not the route I had been going. Rounding the front, near the office I hear a hollywood karate chase break out between my partner and some poor, old, defenseless stick (I assume). and I hear some banging commence--my partner is now trying to make words.
I run back to the machines, the way I had come the second time. He is between two giants, yelling, screaming, and hitting tougher steal than he has bone in his fist. He then begins swearing at me for having heard the whistle. He also swears he saw a man run into the machine!
At this point, I laugh and work to calm him down. There is no man in the machine. Yes, there is a whistle. No, he is not crazy. Yes, we will find out what is going on. He slowly stops hitting the machine. The machine did not appear to show any signs of noticing his efforts.
I think we take a lap around the plant, unsure after so many years now, and he eases back to his normal, backwoods jovial self (good, because I get to hit the next one!). We get back to the machines, and hear one again. Search is on again! And so is his lack of restraint. Boy's gonna have bloody knuckles with nothing to show for it by the end of the hour, if he keeps up... Not against bloody knuckles, but, it had better be worth it. A whistling chunk of steal, nah, Mate, I'm passing.
He swears he hears it, says he heard his name. I never told him I heard the voice speak. I had, but kept it out of the situation. At this point, I have to let him in on that. Yup, he take s it well. Lol. Brawl with me, I'll put you down--and he pushed it. After a bit longer, and handful of searches, he decides to call it quits. There is something not right here and he is going back to the tanks. He tells me to head up front and stay there. (Pfft!)
We part ways and I head back toward the front office, where I make a right and begin a long awaited patrol of the warehouse section of the plant. Yup, I hear him going off again, but he is not alone. I look down the warehouse half and see a shadow man run into a set of boxes with no outlet. My partner is screaming his best idea of a battle cry and I give chase as well. My partner is chiming on the radio that he has cut it off and is headed right for it. Oh, got Christ's sake, he advertised it!!!
I join him as he reaches the boxes the shadow ran into. He is panting. He is beyond irked. And I can't help but smirked through my own hate of the situation. We search the boxes, all filled orders of rubber and linings of sorts. All we care about is making the location secured--and not messing up the products. We love our job, despite how it may seem in this post! ;)
Nothing. No man. No shadow. Behind us, another one runs by. Partner and I run after it. This cat and mouse continues for four hours, the middle third of our shift. We get close, but never close enough. Partner swears he nearly tackled it. He came up full of boxes and dust. I switched directions to grab one; slid to the edge of a product line. Scratched my arm on the ragged edge of the cardboard. I pulled my sleeve down, did not tell my partner. Besides, it barely broke the skin.
After four hours, and realizing, we had no way to explain away his being away from the tanks, my partner walks me back up to the office, where he insists I keep myself locked in. Being the only female on the crew, the boys tend to get protective after these things. Tonight, I am too tired to argue, at leave vehemently. I stand in the open door to the office and watch him walk back the way my last two round had started. A few moments after he rounds the corner, out of sight, I hear him screaming, swearing; threatening the whistle. I laugh and lock myself in the office--whatever floats his boat, I'm grabbing a smoke.
Half a pack later, and feeling rather on edge, I begin to fidget and stand, somewhat forcibly from the 1960's office chair. I'm going for a walk! Turning around, I stop. Between the door and out of reach of my radio or light, I am frozen.
In the office door is a window, paneled out into nine narrow rectangles--like many kitchen doors. On the other side, a man in flannel stands, half in and out of view. I see dirt and muck on him; blood. I do not see a head, just hair and a brownish grey haze to match it where a face should be it reaches up out of sight from the glass. The right half is all I can see. I can tell he holds something in his hand, but cannot see it. It feels like a kitchen knife. I can see it through my senses, though the white metal of the door. He says nothing. He moves not at all. But he is breathing. I can see his chest rise and fall. Each few times, it rises higher, heavier; angrier. And I begin to feel his intent. I dare not move, not yet. Any weapon I may find is all out of reach and my actions would cue him on how to succeed. Granted, it is a wager that can be won. Still, something about this man tells me not to risk it. Unable to radio my partner, I could not help but scold myself for such a rookie mistake. NEVER leave your radio or light out of reach. NEVER!
The man gets angrier, I feel his want almost to a testable extent. When the doorknob finally turns, not by my hand, I snatch up my light and provide a battle cry that send my partner scurrying back to the floor and crying that I spare his life. There was no man at the door, not anymore. And my partner, after I stare down at him for thirteen breaths, peaks from between his arms to say, "oh, it's you."
I swear him back into the cement, gesturing with my maglight just what I should have done to him for letting the man get away.
"Man? What man?" He sits up, scrambles to his feet. "There was someone here? Why didn't you call me?"
"Me?! (this is beside the point) You let him go! He was RIGHT HERE when you opened the door!"
"No, there was nothing here but some sort of grey fog. I figured you had been smoking again."
When he had opened the office door, a plume of nicotine fog billowed out, with me on the war path.... Aside from the last, it was not an uncommon sight. There was no man that had been seen. No shadow caught. No whistle wrangled. That morning, dawn breaking over the loading dock and the union bunko out front warming in the thaw I was grateful to be among them. Heat in the plant was hit or miss, often, we are merely overlooked by frost, thanks to our roof. Standing, navy jumpsuit warming in the day's reborn glow, I find myself happy the night is over. On the last cig of the shift, loud voices and rattling of gear inside announce upper management of the plant is back onsite. They come in periodically to check the doors and machines when the employees are off. With them, my partner. We smirk to each other and walk back to the tanks for better company i.e. our own manager who drives the van which takes us back to the office, after dropping off the next shift. They can have it.
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