Do any of you work the night shift? I don’t mean 5-to-12, I mean 12-to-7…AM. Well, I work night security at a strip mall. The area I live in is pretty nice, but at night it feels like a different city. I’ll admit that I grew up a little sheltered, not prepared for a TRULY dangerous situations, but I’ve grown what I like to think of as good common sense over the years.
I got a security job at the local strip mall about six months ago. It’s out in Waterloo, NY. It’s pretty damn big, so after closing, there are seven security guards set up all over the property. I’d say we’re decently armed — nightstick, taser, and pepper spray. So with all of that, I never thought that I’d be in any danger working there.
“The most you’ll have to deal with is dope dealers and stupid teens,” Henry, the senior guard told me on my sixth day.
Hell, in six months we’ve only had eight incidents. The worst was a coke dealer pulling a knife on Jen, but it took three of us to take him down. But anyway, about two weeks ago, the spring rush was in full swing. Most of our nights were spent reminding shoppers that the stores were closed. All seven of us are pretty close, so it hit us so hard last Sunday when Wesley’s mother died.
For the next few days before the funeral, we were down to three security officers. Henry, Jen and myself. The rest were with Wesley at his parents’ house, helping out. It felt really weird not being able to run four stores down to meet up with another guard. I was tasked with guarding the whole section on the same side as the food court. It was lonely, but I had one thing to keep me company — the loudspeaker music.
Now I don’t exactly know why, but ever since I’ve worked here, we were told to leave the music on 24/7. It’s a non-stop loop of the Billboard Top 35. They update the disc every month. I used to hate “radio music,” but I’ve grown to really like it. When I was forced to work alone, I leaned on the music more than ever.
Silence is a bad sign at my work, and this was VERY true this past Friday. It was 11:30. Jen was on the other side of the complex, Henry was checking the perimeter, and I was walking around the Nike store. I was singing along to “Budapest” as I tried on shoes. Right before the song ended, I heard it.
Nothing, I heard nothing. No music, nothing. Before I thought the worst, I thought that something had gone wrong with the tech system. Henry radioed me asking if everything was alright.
“Yeah I think something might have happened to the PA system. I’ll radio back if I need anything.”
The rain was hitting hard as I ran towards the food court, where the PA/tech system sat snug inside an office located within the area. As soon as I entered the food court, I knew something was “off”. The soda machine had been moved.
“Hello?” I made sure my voice didn’t crack.
After what was two minutes of tense silence, I ran to the office. The door was wide open, it was kicked in. I pulled my taser out as I entered the office. Someone had smashed the PA system, but bizarrely enough, nothing else was touched. The silence was getting to me.
“Henry, Jen, I need you guys here now. Someone broke into the food court. Get here now.” I was panicking.
I sat in the computer chair, back against the office wall, waiting with bated breath until they both arrived. We walked around my section, but couldn’t find a thing. Once we got back to the food court, Jen slapped her head.
“Dom, please tell me you checked the security footage.”
Shit. I was too scared earlier that I completely forgot that the security office was right across from the tech office. I shook my head. All three of us marched into the security office to watch the food court footage.
At 11:28 PM, the doors to the food court opened. A man wearing a blue suit shuffled in. I thought that he was trying to be silent, but the guy kept walking his eerie walk. He was bald and his skin had a really odd grey hue. He kept his face towards the ground. The man moved towards the back, but tripped over one of the tables in his path, falling into the soda machine. That’s when we got a look at his face — rather, realized what he was wearing. He had on a mask. It had a giant, almost comical nose, eyes of pure black holes, and small spears for teeth. It was as if he knew his mask got caught on tape because he threw his left hand in front of it, shielding the disfigured mask from the camera. His hand was huge, like baseball gloves, with really long nails that looked like they were filed to a point. The man got up and shuffled over to the back office, where he smashed his shoulder against the door until it broke, and disappeared into the office. Once he left, it was 11:32, just 20 seconds before I entered the food court. The man ran out the back door.
I was excited. We should’ve been able to find this guy quickly, but I looked at the clock. It was already 11:45 — he had enough time to get to the other side of the complex.
“Alright, I checked the other cameras. He must’ve known where to go because I haven’t gotten anything. Let’s the whole complex together. No splitting up,” Jen ordered.
The three of us were checking the stores on my side. We got to the Adidas store when we all heard it. The music started up again. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest and Jen screamed. Henry put his hands on our shoulders.
“Shut up, I need you two to stay right here. I’ll radio back as soon as I get to the office,” he said.
“Should we call the cops?” I asked.
“It’s one guy, I’ll call them as soon as we catch him. I don’t want to be bitched at by Carol,” he responded before he ran off.
While we waited for Henry to radio in, Jen and I checked the rest of the Adidas store.
“DOM GET OVER HERE!” Jen screamed as I peered behind a counter.
She brought me back to the dressing room. I had no idea what was going on until she turned my head towards the mirror at the end of the hallway.
“Banished to hell, clawed my way back to earth,” was painted in gold paint on the mirror.
“Henry, we need you back here, some weird shit is going on,” I radioed Henry.
“Yeah I know. The PA system is still smashed. There is no way the music should be playing right now,” he radioed back.
As soon as he said that, we heard a loud smash coming from the “island stores”. In the middle of the complex and the huge parking lot, there is a Zumiez and H&M set up. Henry told us to head over there with our tasers at the ready. He couldn’t make it over because he needed to check the bathrooms.
On our way, I thought I saw something move behind one of the food trucks we have sitting in the parking lot. I tried to get Jen to wait for me, but she told me she’d meet me at Zumiez.
I heard a strange clicking noise coming from the truck, which got louder as I approached. As I opened the back door of the truck, I could’ve sworn I saw a figure in the front seat, but it vanished as I got into the truck.
“Hey, nobody is in the food truck. I’ll be at Zumiez in a few minutes,” I radioed ahead.
But before I left the truck, I saw something shiny under the radio. The truck seemed to shift as I knelt down. I put my hand in the dark compartment and felt something. I gripped it and pulled it out. It was a finger with a ring on it. It was caked in dried blood. I swallowed hard as I turned around, staring at the finger.
“I can make you pure.”
I snapped my head up. Someone was standing in front of me. I dropped the finger to reach for my taser, but the man was fast. His meaty hands wrapped around my throat.
“God can’t help you escape Hell, but I can show you,” he whispered. It sounded like he has a voice changer in his mask.
His mask looked like someone morphed a horse’s head with a human’s. In the middle of the forehead was a triangle with an “X” branded on the skin.
My radio squawked, I heard Henry’s voice.
“Dom are you…”
Before he finished, the man grabbed the back of my head. The last thing I saw was my face heading towards the food truck’s counter.
I was out. But I didn’t black out. It felt as if I was dreaming. I dreamt I was strapped down to a chair. I was in what looked like a freezer, but it wasn’t cold. In fact, I was still wearing my security uniform. After a few seconds of screaming for help, the freezer door opened. Out of the pitch black, the “horse-man” walked in. He was wearing a yellow radioactive suit, but his face was completely uncovered. He was holding a rod in his hand, with that triangle brand on the end of it.
“I can make you pure,” the thing would say. It had a screeching “nails on the chalkboard” voice. The thing would roll up my sleeve, and smash the brand onto my arm. I would feel searing pain, but the dream would quickly “loop” back to the beginning of the dream as soon as I felt it. It looped six times before I woke up.
I was in a bed, but not in some dungeon or a freezer. I was in a hospital. Henry and my parents sat next to me. Henry answered my questions before I even asked.
“It’s Saturday night buddy. Jen told me she hadn’t seen you since you went to the food truck, so I ran over there. You’re lucky, because I caught that psycho holding you over his shoulder, running behind the complex. I got pretty close, but he threw you at me before I was in taser range. He didn’t just toss you though…he chucked you! I saw him claw at his face and his mask fell off. I was too busy making sure you were okay before I could catch the guy. I got a look at the mask though. It must have been glued to his face, it even had a bald cap! But guess what was inside.”
I sat up in the hospital bed. “A voice changer?”
Henry looked surprised. “Yeah, actually.”
My father interjected. “Alright, keep all this stuff fresh in your head. The police want to talk to you.”
The police said they would try to find the guy — his hands would make it easy. I was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon, just in time for Wesley’s mom’s funeral. I’m taking some time off from work. The mall is giving me a month off, with $150 every Saturday. They even told me that they’d pay me $20 an hour once I got back (I was getting paid $14) to pay back the “hero debt”. Since then, life has been relatively normal. I did have the dream again Monday night, but I felt weird telling anyone. Everything was sort of normal, but it got bad again Tuesday morning.
I was at a gas station buying some snacks when a man in a large black pea coat came out of the bathroom. He came over to me in the aisle and started a conversation.
“What’s your favorite kind of beef jerky?” he asked. He had an “average” face, except his jaw was…razor sharp…and his hair was pretty long, but he looked normal.
“I’d say usually the Jack Links Teriyaki Bites, but they’re really expensive,” I said, holding up the bag.
The man slowly walked towards me and nodded at another off brand teriyaki jerky bag.
“Try these, they’re pretty damn delicious,” he said.
“Alright I will. Are you from the south? Your accent is pretty strong.”
The man looked at me inquisitively. “Yes actually, Louisiana to be exact. I’m just here to visit a friend of mine, I’m leaving today though. I got some friends out west that I want to visit.”
“Oh do you travel a lot?” I asked.
A grin grew over his face. “Sort of!”
I was about to ask him what he meant, but he interrupted.
“It’s been nice talking to you, but I gotta head out, I work on a tight schedule!”
The man turned around and walked towards the exit before I even said goodbye. Right before he left the store, I looked down at his shoes. A white triangle with an X inside was painted on the back of each boot. My heart started pumping out of my chest and I sprinted towards the bathroom. Ten sharp nails were scattered all over the sink — they had been clipped. I ran outside just in time to see the man pull away in an all white Matador with no license plates.
I called 9-1-1, told them of the situation, and gave them the description of the car.
That was about around 11 on a Tuesday morning. I’ve heard news stations are giving descriptions of the man and the car, but nothing has come up since then. I wish I could help whomever he is going to meet next, but I feel this selfish relief that the man is long aways from me. I just hope he took his abomination with him.