The Red Room - A Short Story by Neil K Spencer
Where to begin? I guess the job. I’ve worked in security all my life, but I’d only worked at Smith and Daniel’s Security car park for three months. It was a massive place, basically a big warehouse for storing vehicles. They called it a car park but mainly companies used them to store private buses or lorries. There were some cars there, mainly from airport traffic, you know, people who head off on their two-week annual family holiday and need somewhere secure to store the car, they pay for it mind, S and D aren’t cheap.
Anyway, it was the night shift, so it was just me, not that I was lonely, I’ve never been one for people anyway. The only person I ever saw was Derek, the guy on shift before me. He’d worked there some years and had a wife and a few kids but other than that I knew nothing about him.
My shift started at eleven and I clocked off at seven. The night started the same as any other. I used my key card to swipe in, it unlocked the door to the office and also showed I’d arrived on time. Once in the office, a small box centred in the middle of the ground floor of the car park, I exchanged pleasantries with Derek and he filled me in on any updates of information I needed for the shift. Usually there was nothing, a list of pick-ups or drop-offs, that was it mostly but, it being the night shift, they were few and far between.
Tonight, however he told me he’d heard some noise coming from the fourth floor. He told me very little, he’d said it was a loud banging noise, he’d inspected it but found nothing. He’d surmised that it was likely an animal of some kind, maybe a stray cat or dog or something was how he’d put it. He’d logged it all down on the computer, I hated that bloody thing, I’d never been tec-savvy. Anyway, as I was saying, he’d made a log and had put in a request with head office for someone to come out and catch the thing but they couldn’t send someone until the morning.
Once he’d updated me, Derek, his shift over, up and left. Our exchange lasted less than ten minutes and that was it, the last human contacted I’d have until, Jeff, my replacement clocked in for his shift in the morning.
It didn’t take long for me to get myself settled. The first thing I did was adjust the seat to suit my high, Derek was a small bugger. Then I took my flask of coffee and my snack box out of my rucksack. It was a long boring night and the never-ending cups of coffee the flask provided were the only way I could keep myself from dosing off. My snack box was filled with three rounds of cheese and pickle sandwiches, I loved pickle. The last thing I got out was a small radio. It was a small red rectangular shaped thing. It was fairly old but it did the trick. I spent the night listening to the late-night station, mostly it was a load of baloney chit-chat but they did play a lot of classic oldie tunes and that helped pass the time.
The shift pattern was a straightforward one. First hour in the office, then I had to do my rounds, checking everything was in order, this usually took an hour or so. Then it was back to the office for several hours, this is where I got to eat my sandwiches. Then finally there was my final rounds before clocking off.
Anyway, the first hour went as usual, slow and tedious. Then it was time to do the rounds. I started at the top and made my way back down to the office on the ground floor. The fire escape was the quickest way to reach the top, it was basically a staircase rounding up the side of the building and led straight to the top floor. There was a door that led on to each floor but they could easily be passed when you were in a hurry.
I grabbed my torch; without it the car park was pitch black. I quickly made my way up the stairs. I wasn’t in the best of shape so I couldn’t run it and even walking it put pressure on the old lungs so by half way I was puffing and panting like an athlete who’d just finished a day’s training.
I could see the door to the top floor, sixth in total including the ground floor. It was then I heard it. The noise, and that’s all it was, a loud banging that echoed down the staircase. It was unexpected and made me jump. I dropped my torch and for a moment thought I’d be trapped in darkness but luckily, they’re stronger than they look, the big black torches they give you in these security firms, so it was still in working order when I picked it up again.
I shone the torch in the direction of the noise and I took a step towards the door marked ‘Floor Four.’ That was when I remembered what Derek had said about a possible animal trapped on that floor, the problem had been dealt with or more correctly it would be the next day. I decided I’d just skip that floor from my rounds and turned to continue towards the top floor.
I’d cleared maybe two or three steps when I heard a muffled voice. My feet froze to the spot as I tilted my head back towards the fourth floor. The voice spoke again. The words were illegible but I could tell it was female. I decided to investigate and returned to the fourth-floor door.
The door creaked as I pushed it open. Walking through it I called out to whoever was there, but of course there was no reply. I shone my torch in front of me and scanned the area. Like the rest of the floors it was full of vehicles. Several lorries were parked side by side to my left, to my right a number of cars and straight ahead there were three rows of buses. The rows went back quite far, there must have been at least twelve to fifteen buses in each row.
I called out again but no reply came. Then I heard a banging noise again. I realised it was coming from somewhere among the rows of buses. I headed in their direction, my torch lighting the way. The buses had been there a while, they were beginning to rust and were covered in dust which was dispersed into the air as I squeezed past them, making me cough.
The banging came again and I continued to follow it. The area was cold and I was beginning to shiver. Eventually I was at the end of the rows of buses and was at the back end of the floor. I could see a wall in front of me it was a dead-end, I’d have to turn back. Then I saw her. The figure stood slightly to my left just a few steps away from the wall. She was dressed in what looked like a really old wedding gown. She had her back to me but I could tell she was a child; she was barely three foot high.
She was speaking but her words were a mumble and I couldn’t understand her. Her voice seemed strange; it didn’t sound like it was coming from her. It sounded like more of an echo. I called out to her but she didn’t respond. I shone my torch at her and walked towards her but as I reached her, she disappeared.
I was so shocked that I dropped my torch. Once again, I was lucky it didn’t break. I picked it up and shone it around searching for the girl. It didn’t take me long to find her. I saw her again, just a few feet from where she’d been previously. Now she was stood in an open doorway. I walked towards her as she stepped into the darkness of the doorway.
As I reached the opening in the wall, I realised I’d never noticed this room before. The doorway glowed red as I reached it. I shone my torch and stepped inside. I can’t explain the feelings I had. I knew what I’d seen, I mean people don’t just vanish do they? But I couldn’t help but follow the girl into the room, it was like I was under some kind of spell.
Once inside I saw that the room was glowing red all over, so bright I no longer needed my torch. I looked around the room. It was a small square shaped box; the only way out was the way I came but yet the girl was gone. I didn’t understand it, where could she have gone. I called out again but nothing. Then as I was about to leave, I caught sight of something moving along the back wall.
At first is seemed like some kind of slug like thing, its skin a red glow to match the walls, then it began to take shape. It formed the shape of a human, a head and torso, it’s back to me. Then from its sides two arms began to grow, then hands with bent and bony fingers stretched out against the still red glowing wall. The whole thing was just three feet in height. The head began to tilt and turn towards me, as it did it sounded like the bones in its neck were breaking. That’s when I saw its face. A round ball, a human like face, two black beads for eyes, a small triangular nose and a diamond shaped mouth. It stared at me as its mouth began to open, revealing a set of sharp dagger shaped teeth. It didn’t move, it didn’t speak, it just stared at me, a wide grin on its face.
Then the voice returned, it wasn’t spoken by the creature, it was in my head. It was louder now but still muffled. I still didn’t understand what it was saying. But it hurt, I felt like my head would explode with the pain. I let out a loud scream and then suddenly it was morning and my shift was over. I looked around the office. I felt disorientated, I’d lost several hours. I had so many questions, how had I gotten back? Where had the creature gone, the girl, the room? I quit my job later that day. I’ve never been back to the car park, not that it matters. I still see the creature every night when I close my eyes, I see its face, just grinning at me.